Gulf War Essay, Research Paper
In 1979, Saddam Hussian took control of Iraq, and immediately set the tone for his rule
by killing twenty-one of his cabinet ministers. He wanted to make his country whole once again,
so in 1990 he invaded Kuwait and in less than 4 hours he had taken Kuwait and controlled 24%
of the world s oil supplies. This is when the United Nations declared that Iraq s annexation is
invalid. The UN gives the word for military force to be used. The beginning of the Gulf War
occurred on November 29, 1990. The war of religious strength, and cruel leadership lasted 17
months. The outcome of the war was known before it even started; the only thing that was to be
determined was how would the end come..
On July 17th Hussain accuses Kuwait of over producing oil, and stealing oil from the
Rumailia Oil Fields. The theft occurred when Kuwait was extracting oil from the ground. Since
borders are only seen on the top of the ground, oil fields can flow between the two countries
borders.(See fig 1). Iraq accused them of stealing two billion dollars worth of oil which belonged
to them. Iraq also accused Kuwait of OPEC production quotas for oil. On August 2nd Iraq
invades Kuwait and in only 4 hours they had control of Kuwait and 24% of the world s oil.
Initially, the United Nations warned Iraq to leave Kuwait, but they did not heed the warning. The
UN feared that Iraq s next target would be Saudi Arabia. The UN sets a deadline for all Iraqi
forces to leave Kuwait on January 15,1991.
The air campaign against Iraq was launched January 16. 1991, the day after the United
Nations deadline for Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait expired. Saddam was given every
opportunity to conclude the stand off peacefully, but US/Iraqi talks in Geneva were inconclusive,
at best. The magnitude and the power of the air attack was a shock to all concerned. The initial
attack swept away much of Iraq’s ability to defend against further air assaults. Radar installations
were attacked by helicopters. F-117’s were sent to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad to destroy
command and control centers. Air bases and hangars were bombed. U.S. Navy bombers and
Tomahawk missiles wreaked havoc on all aspects of Iraqi air defense. The air campaign was
conducted not just by the United States, but the Saudi, British, French, Italian, as well as various
Arab Air Forces.
The Allied air campaign was thorough and devastating. Realizing that traditional anti-air
defense was futile, the Iraqis took to psychological methods that included using human hostages
as shields for prime targets. They placed their aircrafts near ancient historic sites and holy
places, knowing the allies would be reticent to attack where there might be significant “collateral
In an effort to demonstrate their own air offensive capability, on 24 January the Iraqis
attempted to mount a strike against the major Saudi oil refinery in Abqaiq. Two Mirage F-1
fighters laden with incendiary bombs and two MiG-23’s took off from bases in Iraq. They were
spotted by US AWACs, and two Royal Saudi Air Force F-15s were sent to intercept. When the
Saudis appeared the Iraqi MiGs turned tail, but the Mirages pressed on. Captain Iyad Al-
Shamrani, one of the Saudi pilots maneuvered his jet behind the Mirages and shot down both
aircraft. After this episode, the Iraqis made no more air efforts of their own, only sending most
of their jets to Iran in hopes that they might someday get their air force back.
With Iraqi air defense effectively neutralized, the Allied Air Forces proceeded to pound
the Iraqi divisions arrayed in Kuwait and Southern Iraq. Utilizing fuel bombs, cluster bombs,
armor piercing guided bombs, missiles and various other ordinance, Allied forces degraded Iraqi
ability to fight on the ground. Attacks by B-52 bombers were noted to be especially terrible;
entire regiments, brigades and divisions were effectively crushed in a few minute air raid by
these powerful though dated bombers.
Desert Shield, was a group of troops in the region to stop Iraq from taking anymore land.
This lead to Desert Storm, or the all out attack and push to get Iraq out of Kuwait. Desert Storm
was the joint mission of twenty six countries which formed the Allied Forces. By January of
1991, over half a million allied troops were deployed in Saudi Arabia and throughout the Gulf
region. When diplomacy failed between the US and Iraq officials, the attack began. Allied forces
started the attack, bombing Iraq and her forces in Kuwait. Hussain s counterattack was to launch
SCUD missiles at Israel and Saudi Arabia. He hoped that it would separate the Arab nations.
Israel almost retaliated but held back on the advice of President Bush. The Americans promised
to protect Israel from the SCUD missile by setting up Patriot Missile batteries, which would
shoot the missiles down. Meanwhile, the allied airforce made up of Apache helicopters and F-
117A Stealth bombers, bombarded Iraqi army facilities and elusive mobile missile launchers.
(See fig 2.) The Allied air attacks were more devastating then predicted.
Iraq Equipment Losses Coalition Equipment Losses
Type Lost On hand Lost On hand
Tanks 4,000 4,230 4 3,360
Artillery 2,140 3,110 1 3,633
APC 1,856 2,870 9 4,050
Helicopters 7 160 17 1,959
Airplanes 240 800 44 2,600
When Allied forces launched the ground war on February 23, the Iraqi forces were
already defeated. The intense air attack caused the Iraq armies to be cut off from vital supplies
and bases. The soldiers gave up instead of fighting, but in some cases more highly trained forces
such as the Republic guard, stood and fought. Superior American, British, and French troops,
equipment and training proved to be too much for the Soviet-equipped Iraqis.
By mid February, the allied forces, along with underground Kuwaiti Resistance,
controlled Kuwait City. Allied air forces were pushing back the Iraqi army, bombing them with
their artillery. On February 27th, President Bush ordered a cease fire and the surviving Iraqi
soldiers returned to Southern Iraq. At this time an internal rebellion began to break out against
Saddam s regime.
There were many consequences for Iraq which came out of the Gulf War. This time at
the end of the war Iraq ended up worse than last time at the foot of the liberation of Kuwait.
Despite the crushing defeat and subsequent Shiite and Kursdish rebellion, Saddam s government
retained control of the power in Iraq. As a result of the cease fire, Iraq accepted the imposing
no-fly zones over her territory and United Nations weapons inspection teams sniffing through
her nuclear and other weapons programs, one being chemical and biological weapons. The
economic sanctions which were imposed during the war continue today, possibly causing the
severe hardship the economy is having in Iraq. Other conflicts were caused by sympathy for the
Iraqis such as the Saudi-Yemen Border Conflict and the Syria-Lebanon civil war.
The countries that were involved on the Allied side were Afghanistan, Australia, Bahrain,
Belgium, Britain, Canada, Czechoslvakia, Egypt, France, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, Italy,
Kuwait, New Zealand, Niger, Oman, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Syria,
United Arab Emriates, and the United States which put in the majority of the troops and
supplies. The Iraqi s were backed by the Russian s, relating back to the conflict in the middle
east and the cold war. Since the cold war, the relations between the Russian s and American s
has been troubled. The Russian s were backing the Iraqis sending them ammunition and training
them in the art of war.
The aftermath of the war was devastating. Much of Kuwait s industry, infrastructure, and
buildings had been destroyed. Among the heavily damaged places were the homes of the royal
family, government and other public buildings, oil wells, and roads. Looting was widespread, on
both an individual and organized basis: entire collections of libraries, museums, and laboratories
were transported to Iraq. Since the war, Kuwait has been largely rebuilt. However, many oil
wells were set on fire, creating huge oil lakes, thick black smoke, and other environmental
damage. Two days after ground war began, Iraq announced it was leaving Kuwait. On leaving
Kuwait the Iraqis blew up 732 well heads in the oil fields of Kuwait, lighting oil-well fires that .
This was oil that failed to ignite from the explosions.
The last fire was extinguished in November 1991. In the meantime up to 30 million
barrels of Kuwaiti crude had gushed from damaged well heads. Satellite imagery showed that
lakes covered a combined surface area of more than 35.4 sq km. It was the biggest oil spill
ever on land sea or air says Brent Blackwelder, president of the Washington, D.C. based
Friends of the Earth.
In the immediate aftermath of the war, wildlife suffered greatly. To ducks, swallows and
flamingos, the highly reflective pools of oil were seen as water. The number of corpses littered
the shores of the lakes suggested that at least 20, 000 large waterfowl died. The risks to humans
were not as clear. Officials feared oil would seep into the Kuwaiti water supply and destroy their
source of fresh water. As a result of cleaning up the lakes, Kuwait pumped 21 million barrels
from the lakes, cleaned it and sold it. The remaining oil was baked by the desert into an asphalt-
like crust and depressions filled with a gooey residue of weathered oil. As studies and proposals
continue, drifting sands have covered most the oil, and out of the minds of those who cared.
Militarily, the gulf war was the most efficient campaign in UN history. In the end this
was a popular war that secured economic advantages for the Western World- ensuring our way
of life was not threatened by a shortage of the free flow of natural resources. It confirmed the
value of air power and air superiority on the battlefield..
Many countries sent weapons and troops to the conflict. Some of countries such as the
United States sent larger convoys, with such weapons as Apache helicopters and F-117A stealth
bombers. Canada sent two destroyers, 12 C-130 planes, 4 frigates, 3 minesweepers, 168 tanks,
300 armored vehicles and 70 jets. The US sent 540, 000 troops, 6 aircraft carriers, submarines,
4000 tanks, 1700 helicopters and 1800 airplanes. This comparison shows how much more
involved the US was compared to Canada who only played a minor role in the outcome of the
Although the conflict was decided in a short period of time. It set boundaries and
coalitions between nations that had none before. This will enable countries that helped the
Alliance to prosper in the end, with economic sanctions and other benefits that will not be
granted to nations that fought with Iraq ( Russia). This was a religious war, that is still not
settled, if someone does not step in and put down rules and regulations, another issue like this
one will arise and Gulf War II will breakout. Nothing good came out of the war, destruction and
environmental disasters, this is the same as all wars. No matter how hard everyone tries to hide it
the fact is clear, the loss of life is no way to solve a problem, especially a problem that has been
going on for many years now and will not be solved without outside influence. As long as people
like Saddam Hussian are still in power life will be lost, and objects be destroyed, he is the 21’s
Century Adolf Hitler.
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National Geographic, November 1993, Oil Fires in Kuwait
Boston Herald, February 12, 2001, Desert Storm 10 Years After