Although conflict between Iraq and the United States and its allies did not begin until 1990, in order to understand the political situation that led to the conflict, it is necessary to start with a review of U.S.-Iraqi relations from 1980 to 1990.
Although conflict between Iraq and the United States and its allies did not begin until 1990, in order to understand the political situation that led to the conflict, it is necessary to start with a review of U.S.-Iraqi relations from 1980 to 1990. In 1979, a group of Islamist Iranian revolutionaries occupied the American embassy, taking fifty-three Americans
By the end of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988, however, Hussein was embittered toward the Arab and American leaders, who he felt had led him into a self-defeating conflict. Additionally, he was particularly angry at
On August 2, 1990, Iraqi forces crossed the border into Kuwait, easily seizing control of the small nation. Within less than a week, the United States, led by President
By the time Operation Desert Storm began, the United States was engaged in a
The stated primary goal of American actions in the Persian Gulf War (1991), the interwar period, and the
Gulf War, 1991
For much of the interwar period, the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq conducted no-notice inspections on sites throughout Iraq, uncovering clandestine programs to create
As warfare in Iraq has extended for twenty years, the number of different weapons used by Iraqi and coalition forces is vast and has evolved over the course of the conflict. However, two generalizations are possible. First, the Iraqi military, though the fourth largest standing army in the world in 1991, was using relatively outdated Soviet military hardware. Second, and this flows from the first, the United States and its allies enjoyed overwhelming superiority in terms of both the number and quality of its weapons.
Listing the staples of Iraqi weaponry is relatively simple. The main infantry rifle was the Soviet-made
Although the coalition forces fielded a much wider variety of weapons, their workhorses are also easily listed. The infantry rifle used was the M16A2 semiautomatic rifle. The main battle tanks of the conflicts were the M1 and M1A1
During the Persian Gulf War, the command of the coalition forces was divided between the Western armies, under the leadership of U.S. general
M-1A1 Abrams tank in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm.
The end of the Persian Gulf War, however, was not the end of conflict. The cease-fire agreement that ended the war called for Iraq to allow U.N. weapons inspectors to enforce a ban on offensive weapons systems and allowed the coalition air forces (those of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France) to enforce so-called
The coalition put together for the Iraq War was much smaller than the broad, multination, U.N.-based coalition during the Persian Gulf War. Essentially consisting of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, American primacy in the prosecution of the war was even more complete. General
Just as in the Persian Gulf War, the aerial bombardment of Iraq was effective, this time even more so as the technology behind the smart bombs had evolved dramatically during the twelve years between the conflicts. Though Iraq fielded a larger army and more tanks than did the coalition, Iraqi tanks were even more outdated and their army much more poorly trained and led. In addition, the superiority of American air forces was complete.
The Western powers believed that the doctrine guiding Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of
Whereas Iraq followed the strategy of an entrenched, defensive war, the coalition followed the strategy set out in the Army
Sailors aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln in San Diego on May 2, 2003, announcing “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq. The war would actually continue for several more years.
During the interwar period, the U.S. strategy on the militarily diminished but not destroyed Iraq rested on two ideas: economic sanctions and the
Of course, the mission was not accomplished but was just beginning, as the Iraq War went from a conflict between the American and Iraqi military forces to a long, bloody insurgent war, much more reminiscent of Vietnam than any other conflict in which the United States had engaged since. As the war became increasingly unpopular with the American public, a new
Antiwar feeling certainly contributed to
Over the course of the interwar years, many of the policy makers and commanders during the Persian Gulf War wrote memoirs. A number of memoirs by the chief policy makers during the first Bush administration are among them, including Secretary of State
Atkinson, Rick. Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1993. Collins, Joseph J. Choosing War: The Decision to Invade Iraq and Its Aftermath. Washington, D.C.: National Defense University Press, 2008. Cordesman, Anthony H. The Iraq War: Strategy, Tactics, and Military Lessons. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2003. Karsh, Efraim. The Iran-Iraq War, 1980-1988. New York: Osprey, 2002. Loges, Marsha J. “The Persian Gulf War: Military Doctrine and Strategy.” Research paper. Washington, D.C.: Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University, 1996. Mahnken, Thomas G., and Thomas A. Keaney, eds. War in Iraq: Planning and Execution. New York: Routledge, 2007. Marston, Daniel, and Carter Malkasian. Counterinsurgency in Modern Warfare. New York: Osprey, 2008. Mockaitis, Thomas R. The Iraq War: Learning from the Past, Adapting to the Present, and Planning for the Future. Carlisle, Pa.: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 2007. Rottman, Gordon L. Armies of the Gulf War. New York: Osprey, 1993. Schlesinger, Robert. “Iraq, the Surge, and the Sunni Awakening: Not So Fast, Jack.” U.S. News and World Report, September 25, 2008. Summers, Colonel Harry G. On Strategy II: A Critical Analysis of the Gulf War. New York: Dell, 1992. Triumph Without Victory: The Unreported History of the Persian Gulf War. New York: Times Books, 1992. Frontline: Bush’s War. Documentary. WGBH Boston, 2008. Frontline: The Gulf War. Documentary. WGBH Boston, 1996. Green Zone. Universal Studios, 2010. Iraq in Fragments. Documentary. Daylight Factory, 2006. Jarhead. Feature film. Universal, 2005. Three Kings. Feature film. Warner Bros., 1999.
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