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A Decade Later: Kuwait Free, Iraq Isolated

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 8, 2000 – Nearly a decade after Operation Desert Storm, the fight against Iraqi aggression is not over, but defense officials say U.S. and coalition forces have successfully contained Saddam Hussein and maintained stability in the region.

The situation in Kuwait and Iraq today highlight the fundamental accomplishment of the past decade, according to Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon. "Kuwait is free. It's rebuilt. It has a thriving economy," he said. "Iraq is contained. It has a broken economy. It is an isolated state."

Although Hussein persists in violating the no-fly zones and other U.N. sanctions, Pentagon officials say military efforts to contain Iraqi aggression have been successful. Each day, U.S. and coalition air forces patrol U.N.-mandated no-fly zones over north and south Iraq.

The Gulf War Allied Coalition:

The Gulf War Allied Coalition (as of Feb. 14, 1991)

Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, China, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kuwait, Morocco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Korea, Spain, Syria, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States.

(From the 1991 "Defense Almanac.")

U.S. pilots have flown more than 200,000 sorties since Operation Southern Watch began in August 1992 and more than 32,400 patrolling the southern no-fly zone since Operation Desert Fox in December 1998. U.S. fighters have flown more than 16,000 sorties over northern Iraq since Operation Northern Watch began in January 1997.

Coalition pilots act only in self defense, responding to Iraqi threats, defense officials said. If Iraq were to cease its threats, coalition strikes would cease as well. U.S. officials estimate the strikes have degraded Iraq's air defense system by about 30 percent.

Coalition naval forces enforcing U.N. embargoes on oil and technology have stepped up maritime intercept operations in the Persian Gulf in response to increased smuggling activity. DoD officials say coalition forces query all ships sailing north of the 29th parallel.

Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait Aug. 2, 1990, taking control of nearly a quarter of the world's oil supply. The U.N. Security Council condemned the invasion and set a deadline for Iraq's withdrawal -- Jan. 15, 1991.

When Iraq held firm and the deadline passed, the United States and its allies united to drive them out, gathering a force of about 500,000 troops, 3,400 tanks, 3,700 artillery, 4,000 armored personnel carriers, 2,000 helicopters and 2,600 aircraft.

On Jan. 16, coalition forces launched 38 days of continuous air attacks. Ground operations began Feb. 24. After only four days of ground combat, President George Bush called a cease-fire on Feb. 27. The Gulf War was over.

U.S. officials estimate more than 100,000 Iraqi soldiers died, and 300,000 were wounded. The United States suffered 148 killed in action, 121 killed in nonhostile actions and 458 wounded. Tens of thousands more U.S. troops would later report adverse health effects that have come to be known as Gulf War illnesses.

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Related Articles:
AFPS News Article: The Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm Timeline


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