"A line has been drawn in the sand...Withdraw from Kuwait unconditionally and immediately, or face the terrible consequences."
-President George H.W. Bush
August 2, 1990-February 28, 1991
Total who served in all Armed Forces: 1, 606, 600
Battle Deaths: 20,682
Civilian Losses: 1,000
The 1991 Gulf War was considered a brief and successful military operation with few injuries and deaths of U.S. troops. The war began in August 1990, and the last U.S. ground troops returned home by June 1991.
On August 2, 1990 Iraqi forces, led by Saddam Hussein, invaded and annexed Kuwait. In 1988, Iraq signed a ceasefire with Iran which ended an 8 year war between the warring countries. Iraq was initially angry with Kuwait because of its refusal to forgive Iraq’s war debt. Tensions increased when Iraq accused Kuwait of providing excess oil to the market and thereby driving down the price of oil. Iraq was in the midst of recovering from their conflict with Iran, and they needed oil prices to be high to gain enough revenue to rebuild. More conflict over oil occurred when Iraq claimed that Kuwait was stealing Iraqi oil by tilting its drill bits into Iraqi oil fields. Saddam Hussein also argued that his invasion and annexation of Kuwait was justified because Kuwait was a territory of Iraq, not an independent state.
After Iraq invaded Kuwait, the UN called for immediate Iraqi troop withdrawal, and imposed economic sanction in the form of a naval blockade until the demand was met. The UN told Iraq to peacefully withdraw troops by January 15, 1991, or face UN coalition force. Saddam Hussein did not comply and Operation Desert Storm began on January 17, 1991. Operation Desert Storm began with aerial attacks aimed at disabling Iraq’s air force and anti-aircraft weaponry. The U.S. led UN coalition had a great technological advantage in the sky and quickly met their objective. The U.S. led UN coalition continued to dominate when on February 23, 1991, ground troops went into Kuwait and quickly overtook Iraqi forces, which burned Kuwait’s oil fields as they retreated. Kuwait was liberated and a ceasefire was declared on February 28, 1991.
Gulf War Related Resources
- Unique Health Risks for the Gulf War
- Gulf War Health History Pocket Card
- Gulf War Hazardous Exposures
- Hepatitis C Virus Research and Education
- Veterans Health Initiative