Doesn't seem possible it's been 22 years since President George H.W. Bush verbally drew a “line in the sand” in the Middle East and when Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein failed to draw back to it, Operation Desert Storm ensued.
Doesn't seem possible it's been 22 years since President George H.W. Bush verbally drew a "line in the sand" in the Middle East and when Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein failed to draw back to it, Operation Desert Storm ensued.
Bush gave the Iraqi dictator the deadline of Jan. 16, and when Hussein failed to comply, American military might was unleashed before the sun rose on Jan. 17, 22 years ago tomorrow.
It wasn't much of a war as it lasted only 100 hours while American Army tanks churned across the vast desert sands blowing away Iraqi tanks and soldiers in their path.
The architect of the swift victory was Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, a no-nonsense infantryman who served two tours in Vietnam and was quickly dubbed by the media "Storming Norman." I doubt that any media person ever called him Norman to his face, but layout editors relished putting it in headlines.
Fort Leavenworth had played a key role in the brief operation. All the generals in the desert were CGSC graduates, as were many other senior officers. The commander of VII Corps, Lt. Gen. Fred Franks, had been a CGSC deputy commandant as a brigadier general.
Another little known at the time CGSC contribution was a small cell of majors from the School of Advanced Military Studies, (SAMS) who worked out of Schwarzkopf's headquarters and developed the plan that won the war so swiftly.
The years following the war were a bonanza for me. When Air Force students arrived for the next year's CGSC class I asked friends in the Air Force Element for names of Desert Storm participants who had been newsworthy.
The first name I was given was Maj. Jerry Leatherman, a Stealth fighter pilot who had planned, then led, the initial bombing raid on Baghdad. He was also selected as the Air Force officer of the year for 1991. He made good copy for my first column about the war.
Maj. Jay Lindell, an F-16 fighter pilot, received the 32nd Silver Star presented by the Air Force for participation in the war. And he was presented it in Bell Hall by an Army four-star general, something that didn't happen to any of the first 31 officers.
Lindell and his wingman had flown for six hours over a trapped special forces A team some 200 miles inside Iraq. The team was from the 5th Special Forces Group at Fort Campbell, Ky., commanded by old friend Col. Ken Bowra, who borrowed an aircraft from Maj. Gen. John Miller, commander of the 101st Airborne Division and a former deputy commandant and future commandant, and the six members of the A team still at Fort Campbell flew to Fort Leavenworth for the ceremony and to meet Lindell. I got two columns out of that history-making episode.
Also in the class was an Army helicopter pilot who had flown the gunship that knocked out Iraqi air defense radar that permitted Leatherman's unit to fly unscathed to Baghdad.
For an update, Lt. Gen. Franks became Gen. Franks and commanded Fort Leavenworth's higher headquarters at Fort Monroe, Va.; Leatherman left active duty and became a civilian at Richards Gebaur Air Force Base near Kansas City; Lindell became a brigadier general before I lost track of him; Bowra retired as a major general and now works for the State Department in Saudi Arabia; and Miller retired as a lieutenant general and is affiliated with the CGSC Foundation.
I'm going to have to dig my binder of 1992 columns out and re-read the Desert Storm columns after writing this update as my juices are flowing. My, how time flies.
John Reichley is a retired Army officer and retired Department of the Army civilian employee.