General H. Norman Schwarzkopf was in charge of the efficient and annihilative 1991 military assault on Iraq that transformed the political landscape of the Middle East. Schwarzkopf made Americans feel once more what winning a war was like. He passed away on Thursday due to complications from pneumonia. He was 78.
Gen. Schwarzkopf was a four-star general. His husky image came to represent Operation Desert Storm and the nation’s sense of military pride. He had been living a quiet retirement in Tampa, Florida. He still maintained an interest in the politics of the Middle East, a region he left over two decades ago as a victorious general.
The White House, in its statement on Gen. Schwarzkopf’s demise, said he was an original American who will be severely missed. The White House went on to offer its condolences to the general’s family and said that he will always be remembered for making the nation a secure place. Former President George H.W. Bush, who is currently hospitalized in Texas, called him “one of the great military leaders of his generation” and a “true American patriot,” according to a report by LA Times.
The general was often called "Stormin' Norman" for his quick temper. He was remembered fondly for leading 765,000 soldiers, both American and allied, that managed to run Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait only six months after they invaded the tiny Gulf nation and caused havoc in its oil fields and streets.
It was no easy feat defeating the fourth-largest army in the world. The Iraqis possessed large quantities of Soviet-supplied weaponry and the country’s elite Republican Guard held key defensive positions throughout the region. Gen. Schwarzkopf had somewhat of a premonition, as only days before the actual invasion of Kuwait, he had practiced a battle scenario with Iraq and began utilizing it. He managed to convince the country’s leaders in Washington that the war could be won by combining American air power and ground troops. The ground war was over in just 100 hours after constant bombings by the U.S. Air Force. Schwarzkopf’s battle tactics helped limit the U.S. battle casualties to 147 dead and the wounded to 467. The general was told to stand down just short of eliminating the Republican Guard completely and taking down Saddam Hussein. This decision dogged him for the rest of his life, as America went to war again with Iraq in 2003.