US General Norman Schwarzkopf Dies at 78

World | December 28, 2012, Friday // 08:18|  views

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Norman Schwarzkopf, the US general commanded Operation Desert Storm that drove Iraq's forces under Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in 1991 has died at the age of 78.

Schwarzkopf, an American hero known popularly as "Stormin' Norman," died in Tampa, where he retired after his last posting as head of US Central Command, which controls operations in the Middle East and South Asia, international media reported.

"We've lost an American original. From his decorated service in Vietnam to the historic liberation of Kuwait and his leadership of United States Central Command, General Schwarzkopf stood tall for the country and Army he loved," US President Barack Obama said in a statement.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Schwarzkopf -- a hulking bruiser of a commander with an explosive temper -- had in "35 years of service in uniform left an indelible imprint on the United States military and the country."

Former president George H. W. Bush, himself sick in intensive care in Texas, was among the first to issue a statement mourning the loss of the man he chose to lead the war that came to define both of their careers.

"General Norm Schwarzkopf, to me, epitomized the 'duty, service, country' creed that has defended our freedom and seen this great nation through our most trying international crises," Bush said.

The New York Times quoted Schwarzkopf's sister as saying he died from complications related to a recent bout with pneumonia.

Saddam Hussein's million-man army invaded Kuwait in 1990 and looked set to roll into Saudi Arabia, which would have given him more than 40 percent of the world's oil reserves.

Then US President George H.W. Bush assembled a coalition of 32 nations and Schwarzkopf was given command of 425,000 US and 118,000 allied soldiers, a force which decimated Saddam's military machine and drove it from Kuwait with minimal allied casualties.

Born in Trenton, New Jersey in 1934, Schwarzkopf's connection with the Gulf began when he was just 12 and he went to Iran to join his father, another decorated general, who had been posted there.

Educated in Tehran, Geneva and Frankfurt before returning to the United States to pursue a military career, Schwarzkopf specialized in mechanical engineering at the renowned West Point military college.

He also attended the University of Southern California and the US Army War College.

Schwarzkopf served briefly as an instructor at West Point before heading to Vietnam to join the fast-swelling numbers of US military advisers to the South Vietnamese army.

His reputation for bravery was confirmed during his second tour in Vietnam in 1970, when he rescued men from his battalion who were trapped in a minefield in the Batangan Peninsula.

Schwarzkopf's infamous temper spawned the nickname "Stormin' Norman," which became tabloid headline fodder during the 1991 Gulf War. His troops, however, knew him as "The Bear."

In 1983 Schwarzkopf led troops in battle during the US invasion of Grenada and in 1988 was appointed head of the Central Command, responsible for operations in the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

As commander, Schwarzkopf had studied the eight-year Iran-Iraq war and concocted a plan for the defense of Gulf oil fields against a possible Iraqi invasion of US-allied Arab states.

After the US had engaged in a six-week air assault on Iraqi forces in January 1991, this became part of the strategy credited with bringing the ground war to a close in just four days.

After the war, Schwarzkopf turned down the position of army chief of staff and retired from active service in August 1991. He was successfully treated for prostate cancer in 1993.

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Tags: USA, US, US President, Barack Obama, George H.W. Bush, Gulf War, Persian Gulf, Desert Storm, Operation Desert Storm, Norman Schwarzkopf, Saddam Hussein, Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, West Point


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