Research Paper on the Gulf War 1991
Ba’athist Iraq by the late 1980’s was a rogue state ruled with an iron fist by the ruthless dictator Saddam Hussein, who in an eight year war with his neighbor Iran, had mounted a pile of debt. Seeking a way to wipe out this debt and show off the military might of the fourth largest military in the world, Saddam looked to its oil-rich neighbor Kuwait. In an unprecedented and unprovoked act of aggression, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait threatened the very stability of the world, for Saddam’s regime had controlled almost 20% of the world’s oil (BBC). The international community responded with an over 30 member UN Coalition, spearheaded by the United States; a nation still haunted by the Vietnam War. Defeating Saddam was imperative to the stability of the region as well as the world economy. Thanks to the technological advances and perfected military tactics of the United States, Saddam’s mighty army, particularly his elite Republican Guard, was wiped out in a little over the course of a month. In the last major conventional war in the 20th century, the US and the Coalition won a quick and decisive victory on the battlefield through this superior air and land technology and tactics, and resurged America’s international role through well handled diplomacy and UN protocol. At 230 hours, the skies of Baghdad erupted in a hail of anti-aircraft fire, lit up with explosions targeting key parts of the city. US planes overhead conducted precision strikes over anything of use to Iraq’s military, including supply depots, power stations, communications arrays, and forces themselves. Coalition airpower was seeking to put Iraq in the dark so it could not maneuver or communicate with its forces in Kuwait and along the Saudi border. It was January 17th, 1991, and Iraq was a day late for President Bush’s deadline to withdraw forces from Kuwait. The time for negotiations was over; as Operation Desert Shield defended from further possible Iraqi progression into Saudi Arabia’s oil fields. Operation Desert Storm was now in effect; it was time for action. The intent of the Coalition was clear, or as President George H.W. Bush put it in his opening remarks during a White House press conference on January 17th: Our goals have not changed. What we seek is the same as what the international community seeks--namely, Iraq's complete and unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait and then full compliance with the Security Council resolutions. (Bush)
The campaign to rid Saddam from Kuwait, he went on to state, would not be an easy one. Commanders estimated anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 allied casualties would be sustained fighting Saddam’s elite Republican Guard (BBC). In addition, Coalition forces lived under the constant fear of a SCUD missile attack or worse: Saddam’s chemical arsenal. The Strikes continued relentlessly for 43 days. In that time, Coalition air forces managed to gain total air superiority, the complete military dominance of an airspace, and destroy over 300 Iraqi military aircraft. A total of 109,000 sorties, or air-combat missions, were flown by over 5,000 coalition aircraft, averaging 2,500 missions per day (ABC-CLIO). F-117 Nighthawks were able to penetrate deep into Iraq and take out heavily defended and vital military and logistical infrastructure. B-52 Stratofortresses, with payloads exceeding 70,000 pounds of ordnance (ABC-CLIO), would carpet bomb the Iraqi Army and the elite Republican Guard. F-15 Eagles of the US Air Force and F/A-18 Hornets of the US Navy managed to shoot down over 45 Iraqi planes in dogfights (U-S-History) and take only one air-combat loss. For the first time ever, E3- AWACS (Airborne Early warning and Control Systems) were planes used solely for complete digital control of the skies and visual advantage on the ground. It was this completely one-sided air war that contributed to the decisive victory on the ground and in the war as a whole; introducing a new age of warfare...
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