Operation Desert Storm: 30 Years On

Published on 19 January 2021 at 12:56

Sunday the 17th of January 2021 marks the 30th anniversary for the commencement of the First Gulf War or officially, Operation Desert Storm. This was a multi-national military operation authorised by the United Nations and spearheaded by the United States. Umpteen numbers of different nations contributed to the task of ousting President Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces from Kuwait. The invasion covered a widespread coordination between different nations air forces followed by a ground invasion. 


In August 1990, Iraqi forces crossed Kuwait’s sovereign border seeking to obtain the vast oil supplies and reserves that Kuwait had in stockpile. Iraq needed this oil due to serious debts they were suffering as a direct result of the Iran-Iraq War during the 1980’s. The UN issued an ultimatum to Hussein, leave Kuwait or face military and economic repercussions. The ultimatum ordered that all Iraqi forces be removed by January 15th. However, no Iraqi troops were ordered to withdraw from Kuwait. 


On the 17th of January, the multi-national coalition began a gargantuan air attack across Iraqi infrastructure, both in Kuwait and in Iraq. Communications were severed, command buildings destroyed, roads and railway lines damaged, and key military bases hit by airstrikes. It was a real “flex of the muscles” by the western allies. US, British, French and along with numerous other nations, fighters and bombers successfully obtained and maintained air superiority and continuously hindered Iraqi operations. 


Subsequently, then followed the land invasion. US Marines made up the bulk of the composition of UN forces in Iraq. They staged their invasion into Kuwait from nearby Saudi Arabia. The coalition forces had annihilated Hussein’s forces as by mid-February, all remaining Iraqi troops had surrendered. It was a military triumph for the UN and a major economic victory as the world’s oil supply was secured from a nefarious aggressor. 


The Gulf War coincides with the collapse of the Soviet Union. While the US was spearheading a grand scale international military operation, the USSR found itself collapsing in unto itself. This timeframe saw the US’s main adversary in the world fall however, it also saw itself involved with a new complicated region for many years to come. 


The First Guld War set the scene for US military involvement in the Middle East for the next three decades. From the commencement of warfare on the 17th  to today, there has consistently been a US presence in this area of the world. Following the September 11th attacks in 2001, this way of thought of intervening in the Middle East was ramped up tenfold. In 2001 there was an invasion of Afghanistan, with the objective being to curb the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Additionally, the 1991 war coincidently led to the Second Gulf War in 2003, in which a US led coalition sought to overthrow the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein as they believed Hussein had access to weapons of mass destruction. It opened a can of worms that the US are still struggling to get themselves out of. 


As of 2021, the number of troops situated there has decreased in quantity greatly but, there are still around 3,000 men and women stationed in Iraq. The US, whether they like it or not, still play a key role in maintaining peace in the region due to their continued intervention during the past 30 years. Nations and people in the area are reliant on them to maintain peace and stability but it seems to be the US’s wishes to refrain from doing so. Adversaries seem to be continuously emerging in the region and it all began with the catalyst that was the First Gulf War. Although today, the numbers of US personal involved in military objectives in the Middle East are miniscule compared to what they once were, it still remains a highly precarious region and still a major aspect on people’s minds throughout the world. 

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