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- Desert Shield/Storm -

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View the imagination of U.S. Soldiers when creating a home away from home, as they participated in a massive logistical mission that led to an American victory.

Living in the Desert

In August 1990, Saddam Hussein's Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait (Q8). The US and 38 other countries formed a military coalition to remove the Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Why Hussein invaded Q8 may never be known. However, the Kuwaiti forces were no match for the Iraqi 120,000 soldiers and 2,000 tanks. With unclear intentions towards our ally, Saudi Arabia, the buildup of 640,000 military personnel began. The initial phase of the operation was called Desert Shield. On 17 January 1991, a five week long aerial and naval bombardment began. This ended Desert Shield and the operation became known as Desert Storm. Iraq launched SCUD (Surface Controlled Uni Directional) missiles towards positions in Saudi Arabia and against Israel. The latter nation was targeted in hopes of drawing Israel into the war and erode Arab support for any operation against Saddam Hussein. The airland operation began 17 January and ended on 11 April 1991. The return to the US was named Operation Desert Farewell after the liberation of Kuwait.

Operation Desert Storm lasted about 100 hours. Retreating Iraqi forces set 737 Kuwaiti oil wells on fire. Initial estimates were that it would take years to extinguish them. As it was, the last one was capped on 9 Nov 1991. The smoke from the oil fires was clearly visible from Landsat images.

Operations in the desert taught valuable lessons in the conservation of water. Soldiers had to learn to hydrate themselves. They learned to take field showers using two - three pints of water. Carrying supplies of water became almost as important as carrying ammunition.

This page last updated on 2 November 2017