Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Military Space News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

The Other Gulf War

M-1A1 Abrams main battle tanks in northern Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm.

"Desert Storm lasted 100 hours. The U.S. suffered 148 fatalities and 467 wounded. The current war in Iraq is going into its fourth year and has cost the U.S. 3,149 killed and 25,677 wounded as of Feb. 23. In monetary terms the war cost the U.S. taxpayers $368,957,450,000 and counting. In the nearly seven minutes you would have spent reading this article, the war in Iraq would have cost another million and a quarter dollars to U.S. taxpayers."
by Claude Salhani
UPI International Editor
Washington (UPI) Feb 26, 2007
After nearly six weeks of heavy aerial and artillery bombardment of Iraqi positions the ground war for the liberation of Kuwait began. Dubbed Operation Desert Storm, the war ended just over four days after it started -- or 100 hours later -- 16 years ago this Wednesday. When you compare Desert Storm to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, well, it just doesn't compare. To begin with, this war has been going on for about 34,560 hours, and there is no end in sight.

On Aug. 2, 1990, Saddam Hussein's forces invaded the tiny oil rich emirate of Kuwait, claiming the Kuwaitis were drilling for oil diagonally under the Kuwaiti border into Iraq's oilfields. Then to justify his actions Saddam revived old claims that Kuwait was Iraq's 19th province.

President George H.W. Bush, the father of the incumbent president -- often referred to as Bush 41 by White House staffers to differentiate him from his son, Bush the 43rd president -- was able to accomplish three vital moves guaranteeing the United States the upper hand in dealing with Saddam Hussein.

First, President Bush put together a true coalition of about 30 countries, comprising not only traditional allies as the British and French, but managed to convince key Arab countries such as Egypt and Syria to contribute troops.

Second, the president succeeded in obtaining a United Nations resolution, mandating the multinational coalition to evict Iraqi troops from Kuwait, by force if necessary. Unlike the current war in Iraq, the support of the United Nations gave the U.S.-led coalition international legitimacy to go to war.

Third, Bush wasted no time in establishing a U.S. military beachhead in Saudi Arabia to deter Saddam from attempting to expand his offensive into Saudi. He dispatched a small unit of U.S. Marines to the port city of Dhahran and F-15 Eagle fighters from Langley Air Force Base, Va. to a base in Saudi Arabia.

To the good fortune of Bush 41, Saddam Hussein committed three major blunders.

First, he misinterpreted signals from Washington as a tacit green light to proceed with the invasion of Kuwait. On this point Saddam was reading more what he wanted to read in Washington's signals, rather than what he should have read.

Second, he should have never invaded Kuwait in its entirety. Had Saddam limited his occupation of Kuwait to the oilfield straddling the border and maybe taken over a couple of disputed islands near the port of Umm Qasr, it might have well stopped there. There are doubts whether the United States would have gone to war over one oil field and two small islands. But arrogant as he was, and suffering from a severe financial crunch following the devastating eight-year war with Iran, Saddam Hussein was in dire need of instant cash. His reasoning was that by occupying Kuwait he would get his hands on the emirate's oil as well as its cash reserves sitting in the central bank.

Saddam's third, and probably fatal mistake, once he decided to invade Kuwait and had reached the Kuwaiti-Saudi border, was to stop. In the early hours of the invasion there was no force to speak of capable of offering any serious resistance to the Iraqi forces. Kuwait was occupied in hours, its tiny army collapsed or fled to neighboring Saudi Arabia with the royal family.

The vanguard of the U.S. forces was not to arrive in Dhahran until Aug. 7, five whole days after the occupation of Kuwait and during which time there was no military force to prevent Saddam slicing through the Arabian Peninsula all the way down to the Straight of Hormuz. The Iraqi army, at that time, was the most powerful army in the region. Had Saddam ordered it to continue marching south through Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, grabbing Bahrain and Qatar along the way, it could have well reached the southern tip of Saudi Arabia on the Indian Ocean, thus preventing the U.S. Marine expeditionary force or the Air Force a base of operation from which to establish a toehold in Saudi Arabia.

Indeed, the outcome of the war would have been very different. The United States and its coalition would have been denied a staging area from which to prepare for the invasion of Kuwait, as was the case.

With Saddam sitting firmly on most of the free world's oil supply, including the largest and second largest oil fields -- Iraq and Saudi Arabia's -- the geopolitical map of the region would have been a very different one. One question is whether the U.S. and its allies would have been successful in staging the military buildup needed to oust Saddam from the countries he occupied with him holding the keys to half the world's gas pumps?

Bush 41 was later criticized for stopping short of removing Saddam when thousands of Iraqi refugees streaming into the U.S. zone in southern Iraq, as well as thousands of surrendering Iraqi troops -- including a Republican Guard colonel who surrendered to this reporter -- were baffled as to why the U.S. military stopped when it did.

As the Iraqi colonel who offered his surrender to a reporter he mistook for a G.I. lamented, "Three more days and the bastard would have fallen."

But Bush 41 claimed he did not have a mandate to pursue Saddam all the way to Baghdad. The U.N. resolution authorized only the eviction of Iraqi troops from Kuwait.

Bush 43 had no such qualms. He wanted his war with Saddam and he set out to get it. If you still want to compare the two conflicts, here are some facts courtesy of the Pentagon: Desert Storm lasted 100 hours. The U.S. suffered 148 fatalities and 467 wounded. The current war in Iraq is going into its fourth year and has cost the U.S. 3,149 killed and 25,677 wounded as of Feb. 23.

In monetary terms the war cost the U.S. taxpayers $368,957,450,000 and counting. In the nearly seven minutes you would have spent reading this article, the war in Iraq would have cost another million and a quarter dollars to U.S. taxpayers.

(Comments may be sent to

Source: United Press International

Email This Article

Related Links
Iraq: The first technology war of the 21st century

Trouble In The Garden Of Eden
Washington (UPI) Feb 23, 2007
The yet-undeclared civil war in Iraq took a turn for the worse as insurgents have turned to detonating "dirty bombs." For the second time in as many days, insurgents used chemicals in attacking civilians, combining chlorine gas canisters with explosives. For the moment, they are still very crude bombs, with the chlorine dissipating by the force of the explosion.

  • The Russia That Can Say No
  • China Military Build-Up Out Of Keeping With Peaceful Aim
  • US On Charm Offensive To Avoid Clash With Russia
  • Putin Warns Against Flouting International Law For Own Interests

  • Japan Urges North Korea To Come Clean On Uranium
  • Israel To Hold Nationwide Nuclear Attack Drill
  • Work Begins On New Iran Resolution As Old Hands Warn Of Escalation
  • North Korean Nuclear Envoys Softened Weapons Stance

  • Rumsfeld's Missile Bungle
  • Pakistan Successfully Tests Nuclear-Capable Missile
  • Iran Launches War Games With Missile Tests
  • Putin Denies Passing Missile Technology To Iran

  • Russian Military-Industrial Commission To View Fifth Generation Air-Defense System
  • US Missile Shield Talks Could Take Several Years
  • US Says Missile Shield In Europe Could Evolve In Future
  • BMD Can Backfire On Europe

  • Lockheed Martin And FAA Reach Significant Milestone In Transformation Of Flight Services
  • Can UABC Take Russian Aircraft-Makers Out Of Spin
  • Superjet To Be Tested For Strength
  • Anger As Britons Face Air Tax Hike

  • Phase 2 Testing Completed For Centralized Controller For Unmanned Air And Ground Systems
  • Killerbee UAV Flies At Camp Pendleton
  • UAV Tested For US Border Security
  • Iran Claims New Stealth Drone That Can Attack US Gulf Fleet

  • The Other Gulf War
  • Trouble In The Garden Of Eden
  • Iraqi Police In Militias
  • General Discusses Chlorine Bombs, Helicopter Shoot-downs

  • Navy Awards Two Contracts For Airborne Low Frequency Sonar System
  • First Joint Precision Airdrop A Success In Iraq Test
  • Pentagon Calls Off Plans For Huge Explosion In Desert
  • Lockheed Martin Compact Kinetic Energy Missile Successful In Final Flight Test

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2006 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA PortalReports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additionalcopyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement