The Persian Gulf War

AKA The First Iraq War


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The Gulf War (also now known as the First Iraq War), as the first major conflict involving the United States since Vietnam proved to be a catharsis of sorts for the American military and public...Read More on the Gulf War Below

Gulf War

 Also see: Medals of Honor Awarded for the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan--Controversy swirls over small number of Medals of Honor awarded in current wars.


Gulf War MIA Scott Speicher's remains found

The first major conflict involving the United States since Vietnam proved to be a catharsis of sorts for the American military and public. Just as the Spanish-American War of 1898 gave the nation a "short victorious war" following the angst of the Civil War, the Gulf War lifted the U.S. out of a self-conscious, post-Vietnam malaise. However, just as the short war of 1898 quickly led to the bloody Philippine-American War, the Gulf War's dark legacy soon reared it's ugly head; the Gulf War Syndrome plagues veterans and the No-Fly Zone War, kept alive the violence and confrontation as a lead-in to the current Third Persian Gulf War, also known in the U.S. as the Iraq War.

There are nearly as many links dealing with Gulf War Syndrome as there are on the war itself. This is not really a surprise, considering the relative brevity of the war compared to the serious long-term consequences of the disease from which many veterans suffer.

Something new and historical: Want to learn how to drive a tank? Check out these tank driving experiences.


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Name of Conflict | Belligerents | Conflict Dates | Conflict Type | Related Conflicts | Causes | Description | Consequences | Casualties | Sources | Links | Battle of Khafji | Saddam Hussein | McCaffrey Controversy | Gulf War Syndrome | Gulf War Veterans Links | Middle East/Arab Links | Personal Accounts of the War| Gulf War 20th Anniversary | Gulf War Images and Pictures

NAME OF CONFLICT: The Second Persian Gulf War

ALTERNATE NAMES: The Gulf War (US), Operation Desert Storm (US)


Kuwait and United Nations (United States, Saudi Arabia, Great Britain, France, The Netherlands, Egypt, Syria, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Honduras, Italy, Niger, Romania, South Korea)

**UN nations in red denote actual combat involvement. Israel did not participate in an offensive manner, but suffered Iraqi missile attacks.



(Jordan, Yemen and the Palestine Liberation Organization gave moral support to Iraq)


BEGAN: August 2, 1990 -Iraqi invasion of Kuwait

ENDED: March 3, 1991- Iraq accepts cease-fire



PREDECESSOR: (Related conflicts that occurred before)
The First Persian Gulf War (1980-1988)--AKA "The Iran-Iraq War"

CONCURRENT: (Related conflicts occurring at the same time)

Lebanese Civil War (1975-1991)

SUCCESSOR: (Related conflicts that occur later)

Iraqi Shiite Revolt of 1991

Iraqi Kurdish Revolt of 1991

No-Fly Zone War (1991-2003)

The Third Persian Gulf War (2003-Present)--AKA "The Iraq War"



There are three basic causes to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. First, Iraq had long considered Kuwait to be a part of Iraq. This claim led to several confrontations over the years (see below), and continued hostility. Also, it can be argued that with Saddam Hussein's attempted invasion of Iran defeated, he sought easier conquests against his weak southern neighbors.

Second, rich deposits of oil straddled the ill-defined border and Iraq constantly claimed that Kuwaiti oil rigs were illegally tapping into Iraqi oil fields. Middle Eastern deserts make border delineation difficult and this has caused many conflicts in the region.

Finally, the fallout from the First Persian Gulf War between Iraq and Iran strained relations between Baghdad and Kuwait. This war began with an Iraqi invasion of Iran and degenerated into a bloody form of trench warfare as the Iranians slowly drove Saddam Hussein's armies back into Iraq. Kuwait and many other Arab nations supported Iraq against the Islamic Revolutionary government of Iran, fearful that Saddam's defeat could herald a wave of Iranian-inspired revolution throughout the Arab world. Following the end of the war, relations between Iraq and Kuwait deteriorated; with a lack of gratitude from the Baghdad government for help in the war and the reawakening of old issues regarding the border and Kuwaiti sovereignty.

 Iraq-Kuwait Relations Prior to the 1990 Invasion.

1961- Iraq (President Qasim) threatens Kuwait, invoking old Ottoman claims. Britain supports Kuwait and Iraq backs down.

1973, March- Iraq occupies as-Samitah, a border post on Kuwait-Iraq border. Dispute began when Iraq demanded the right to occupy the Kuwaiti islands of Bubiyan and Warbah. Saudi Arabia and the Arab League convinced Iraq to withdraw.

1980-1988- Kuwait supports Iraq in the First Persian Gulf War with Iran.


Amid growing tension between the two Persian Gulf neighbors, Saddam Hussein concluded that the United States and the rest of the outside world would not interfere to defend Kuwait. On August 2, 1990, Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait and quickly seized control of the small nation. Within days, the United States, along with the United Nations, demanded Iraq's immediate withdrawal. U.S. and other UN member nations began deploying troops in Saudi Arabia within the week, and the world-wide coalition began to form under UN authority.

By January of 1991, over half a million allied troops were deployed in Saudi Arabia and throughout the Gulf region. Intense diplomacy between U.S. and Iraqi officials failed to bring an Iraqi withdrawal, so, on January 16, 1991, Allied forces began the devastating bombing of Iraq and her forces in Kuwait. The Allied bombing sought to damage Iraq's infrastructure so as to hinder her ability to make war while also hurting both civilian and military morale. To counter the air attack, Saddam ordered the launching of his feared SCUD missiles at both Israel and Saudi Arabia. He hoped to provoke the Israelis into striking back at Iraq, which he theorized would split the Arab nations from the anti-Iraq coalition due to the ongoing hostility between Israel and the Arab world. Israel came very close to retaliating, but held back due to President George Bush's pledge to protect Israeli cities from the SCUDs. As a result of this promise, U.S. Patriot missile batteries found themselves deployed in Israel to shoot down the SCUDs. Another result of the SCUD launches was to divert Allied air power from hitting the Iraqi army to hunting for the elusive mobile missile launchers. Even so, the Allied air strikes and cruise missile attacks against Iraq proved more devastating than expected.

When the Allied armies launched the ground war on February 23, the Iraqi occupation forces in Kuwait were already beaten. Cut off from their supply bases and headquarters by the intense air campaign, thousands of Iraqi soldiers simply gave up rather than fight, as the Allies pushed through Iraq's defenses with relative ease. In the few cases where the more elite Iraqi forces, such as the Republican Guard, stood and fought, superior American, British and French equipment and training proved the undoing of the Soviet-equipped Iraqis.

By February 26, U.S. and Allied Arab forces, along with the underground Kuwaiti Resistance, controlled Kuwait City and Allied air forces pounded the retreating Iraqi occupation army. In southern Iraq, Allied armored forces stood at the Euphrates River near Basra, and internal rebellions began to break out against Saddam's regime. On February 27, President Bush ordered a cease-fire and the surviving Iraqi troops were allowed to escape back into southern Iraq. On March 3, 1991, Iraq accepted the terms of the cease-fire and the fighting ended.


1. Saddam's second war of foreign conquest ended even worse than the first one. Iraq again stood defeated with the liberation of Kuwait.

2. Despite the crushing defeat and subsequent Shiite and Kurdish rebellions, Saddam's government retained a strong grip on power in Iraq.

3. As a result of the cease-fire terms, Iraq had to accept the imposition of "no-fly zones" over her territory and United Nations weapons inspection teams sifting through her nuclear and other weapons programs.

4. The economic and trade sanctions begun during the war continue to the present day, contributing to severe economic hardship in Iraq. Some reports say hundreds of thousands of children have died due to the sanctions. There are no indications that the government or military suffer undo hardships.

5. While the world (and the United States and Europe), concentrated on Iraq, Syria moved to crush the last resistance to her de facto control of Lebanon, thus ending that country's long civil war. It is believed that Syria's President Assad was given a free hand to deal with Lebanon in return for joining the war in Kuwait.

6. When Yemen declared sympathy for Iraq, Saudi Arabia expelled upwards of a million Yemeni guest workers, causing economic hardship in Yemen and increased tension between the two neighbors. See Saudi-Yemen Border Conflict page.


Iraq: Original figures listed 100,000 Iraqi military dead, but more recent estimates place Iraqi dead at 20,000 military and 2,300 civilian.

United States: 148 killed in action, 458 wounded, and one Missing In Action (MIA). Also, 121 Americans died through non-combat incidents.

The one MIA (compared to 1,740 MIA in the Vietnam War), was Navy pilot, Captain Michael "Scott" Speicher was shot down and was neither rescured, nor was a body found until, on August 2, 2009, the Pentagon announced that U.S. Marines stationed in Iraq had found Speicher's remains.

See also: U.S. identifies remains of pilot missing in Persian Gulf War--LA Times, Aug. 2, 2009

Ironically, or perhaps intentionally, the Pentagon announced the recovery of Speicher's on the 19th anniversary of Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, which occurred on August 2, 1990, and sparked the following 19 years of war between the U.S. and Iraq.


1. Desert-Storm.com: military presence allied forces

2. Schwartzkopf, Norman H. It Doesn't Take A Hero. New York: Bantam Books, 1992.


PBS Online - Frontline Story on the Gulf War

Desert-Storm.com A very informative and well-designed site on the Gulf War.

Operation Desert Storm Debriefing Book

Canada's Participation in the War--Part of a website maintained by the Canadian military.

Fratricide at Umm Hajul - Desert Storm friendly fire incident and cover up.

Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait: An Eyewitness Account - the author was involved in the events leading up, during, and after the invasion by Iraqi forces. *Fascinating account of the Iraqi invasion and preceeding events.

Target Baghdad - aviation photo gallery.

"Thunder and Lightning"- The War with Iraq -- From the U.S. Naval Historical Center home page.


Battle of Khafji

The Battle Of Khafji: An Overview and Preliminary Analysis

Saudi Town Reclaimed--Washington Post article on the Battle of Khafji.

Lessons learned in the savage 1972 Eastertide Offensive paid off at the Battle of Khafji almost two decades later.--Interesting analysis of the Khafji battle as told by Marine General Boomer.

Saddam Hussein

ABCNews.com: Saddam Hussein - Provides biographical background and links to news stories.

BBC News: Saddam Hussein - His Rise to Power

Biography of President Saddam Hussein, President of the Republic of Iraq - From the Republic of Iraq Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

CNN.com: Hussein - The Man the U.S. Loves to Hate -Analyzes Hussein's background and motives.

CNN.com: Transcript of Saddam Hussein's Speech to Iraqis - From September 3, 1996.

Emergency Net: Hussein - Offers biographical background.

Iraq Today: Saddam Hussein's Speech - Provides text of President Hussein's speech on the 11th anniversary of the Great Victory Day.

Megastories: Saddam's Early Life, the Lust for Power - Provides background on Hussein and his family.

MSN Encarta Encyclopedia: Saddam Hussein - Features career overview.

Saddam Hussein and His Profile - Critical analysis of Hussein's leadership.

Saddam Hussein, President of Iraq - Features personal and professional background.

Who 2: Saddam Hussein - Features background and annotated links.

Frontline: The Survival of Saddam - Portrait of Saddam Hussein's life and the secrets behind his leadership. Features interviews, rare photographs, and Saddam "music videos."

McCaffrey Controversy

A recent article written by Seymour Hersh for New Yorker magazine ignited a controversy over the use of appropriate force by General Barry McCaffrey at the Battle of Rumaylah. Below are links for further research.

Overwhelming Force - Text of the article by Seymour Hersh.

Don't Believe Them - Opinion piece by Lew Rockwell.

Probing a Slaughter: A U.S. assault on Iraqi troops was 'a grouse shoot'but was it an excessive use of force? --Newsweek article from May 29, 2000.

Salon: Gulf War Crimes? - Discusses the story and McCaffrey's responses.

U.S. Department of State, International Information Programs: Barry McCaffrey, U.S. Army Comment on New Yorker Article

H-War Discussion Network: Principle of Proportionality-- This is a military history discussion group which discussed the Hersh article and McCaffrey's actions in the war. The general principle of "what is the appropriate amount of force?" is debated. Click on the link and then scroll down the page to the discussion thread for "principle of proportionality."

Yahoo's Full Coverage on the McCaffrey controversy-- Get the latest news on this issue.

Gulf War Syndrome Links

Official Government Resources

CDC Persian Gulf War Study Fact Sheet -

Department of Veterans Affairs

Dept. of Veterans Affairs Gulf War Fact Sheet--Includes information on Programs available for Gulf War Veterans.

Gulf War Veteran's Homepage--Dept. of Veterans Affairs web page on Gulf War Vets.

GulfLINK--Office of the Special Assistant for the Gulf War Illnesses. An official Dept. of Defense site.

GulfLINK Declassified Documents - Recently declassified military and CIA documents concerning Gulf War Illnesses.

SVAC Hearing Testimony-- UNITED STATES SENATE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS. Hearings on Persian Gulf War Illnesses.

Senate Veteran's Affairs Committee Press Releases

Non-Governmental Resources

Gulf War syndrome linked to chemicals--UPI, April 13, 2009

Gulf War Veteran's Resource Page

Cover-Up of Gulf War Syndrome: A Question of National Integrity--Analysis and documents from a vet regarding alleged government cover-ups related to Gulf War Syndrome.

Burning Semen Syndrome- A survey site run by a doctor who is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Cincinnati.

Gulf War Syndrome Cover-up - From Covert Action quarterly.

Gulf War Syndrome & James Iredell Moss--Information on Dr. Moss and his research into GWS.

Yahoo's Full Coverage: Gulf War Syndrome--For the latest news on GWS.


Gulf War Veterans Links

American Gulf War Veterans Association

Gulf Veteran Resource Pages - the first and primary source of information on the Web for Gulf War Veterans suffering the mysterious collection of maladies known as Gulf War Syndrome.

Gulf War Veterans of Wisconsin - assists Wisconsin residents affected by the complexities of Gulf War related illnesses. Keeps the public informed of issues that affect their veterans' well-being.

Middle East/Arab Links

GulfNet Kuwait--

KuwaitOnline- Internet source for Kuwait information.

ArabNet: Iraq--

Iraq Action Coalition

National Committee for Missing and POW's Affairs - Kuwait

History and Politics Links on Iraq

The History Guy: Issues: Iraq-U.S. Conflict--The History Guy's page containing links to many Iraq sources. Part of this website's Politics section.

The Iraq Foundation --"is a non-profit, non-governmental organization working for democracy and human rights in Iraq, and for a better international understanding of Iraq's potential as a contributor to political stability and economic progress in the Middle East."*Descriptive statement is from the Iraq Foundation website.

DOD 101: United States Military Operations-- Fascinating website run by the Federation of American Scientists. On this site you will find tons of data on US military operations going back decades.

Iraq History-- A very detailed accounting of Iraqi/Mesopotamian history covering Biblical times to the Present.

UNSCOM-- The United Nations Special Commission, the organization that conducts the weapons inspections in Iraq. This page is part of the UN website.

Iraqi Rulers--Part of the Iraq4ever website. Lists the rulers of Iraq from independence to the present.

Iraq History--Part of the Iraq4ever website. Includes quite a bit of detail on the history of Iraq and the Mesopotamia region.

Personal Accounts of the War

An Iraqi lieutenant's War Diary

Diary of the Gulf War --account of life in Israel during the war.

Diary of Robert Werman --account of life in Israel during the war.

From Green Bay to the Persian Gulf: the 432nd Civil Affairs Company in Operation Desert Storm


News and Media Links on the Gulf War's 20th Anniversary

20 years later: Guard recalls Gulf War --News Press Now, Jan. 15, 2011

Guest Columnist: The first Gulf War through time --Jerusalem Post, Jan. 15, 2011

Two decades on, battle goes on over 'Gulf War Syndrome' --BBC, Jan. 15, 2011

Remembering Desert Storm: Did it end too soon? --WRAL, Jan. 15, 2011

Iraqis choose to forget, 20 years after Gulf war--Manila Bulletin, Jan. 15, 2011

War, hostages and a generation of influence on TV news --AZ Central.com, Jan. 15, 2011

War are they now? --The Sun, Jan. 14, 2011

The ghost of Saddam Hussein --Ha'aretz, Jan. 14, 2011

Desert Storm changed Kuwait, military and journalism --ScrippsNews, Jan. 14, 2011


Gulf War-Battle of Khafji, 1991

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