10 Facts You Should Know About Operation Desert Storm

by Mike Mavenful 2 years ago in history

There's a lot that went on during the Gulf War that you might not even know about. Check out these interesting facts you should know about Operation Desert Storm.

10 Facts You Should Know About Operation Desert Storm

The Gulf War, codenamed Operation Desert Storm, was a pretty unique war. It was for operations that led to the buildup of troops and defense of Saudi Arabia and Operation Desert Storm in its combat phase. It was basically a war waged by coalition forces from 35 nations that was led by the US against Iraq in response to Iraq’s invasion and annexation of Kuwait.

In fact, there's a lot that's happened within just one war. Many people don't entirely know the little facts that occurred within the war. The film Jarhead is even based on this war! Not to mention that this one war holds so many names like the Persian Gulf War, First Gulf War, Gulf War I, Kuwait War, and much more. With so many names, it's easy to tell that so much happened within a really short war. Check out these interesting facts you should know about Operation Desert Storm.

The war was actually shorter than expected.

Major wars usually last a long time, at least a couple of years. And many people expected the Gulf War to last for a few years. But in fact, the war ended up becoming much shorter than expected.

From the beginning of the Desert Storm to the end… only lasted 43 days. Yes, from January 17 to February 28, 1991, was the time of the Gulf War. The land campaign is also infamously known as the “100-hour ground war” for clear reasons… that’s actually how long it lasted for.

Desert Storm was a relatively cheap war.

Not only was the Desert Storm really, really short, but it was a pretty cheap war, too. Among the facts you should know about Operation Desert Storm is that while the US was the main supplier, 39 countries donated men and/or material to the coalition in a certain way. The US Department of Defense calculated the Gulf War and resulted to $61 billion. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf states covered about $36 billion while Germany and Japan covered $16 billion.

However, as a percent of Gross Domestic Product (0.3 percent), the Gulf War was still seen as the cheapest war fought in US history. While this war was significantly inexpensive for the US, the greater cost of the war to the region was more than $676 billion.

Iraq used oil as a weapon.

Iraqi combat engineers created trenches to fill them with oil and ignite them to slow coalition advances, and even filled oil into the Persian Gulf in order to keep the US Marines from landing. And the amount of oil that they spilled was estimated to be about four to 11 million barrels—multiple sizes bigger than the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. To make matters worse, none of it was cleared up on Saudi Arabian shores.

While they used oil as their weapon, the 610 oil fires that were set by Iraq destroyed 85 percent of Kuwaiti’s oil wells. And the total amount of oil burned was seen as one billion barrels—that’s worth $2.8 billion.

Saddam Hussein declared a jihad against the US.

Among the intriguing facts you should know about Operation Desert Storm is that Saddam Hussein started to convey a more Islamic, religious appearance in Iraqi media. He showed himself praying at mosques and also supporting the Palestinian cause, hoping to reframe the war as a struggle against Western imperialism and Israeli scheming.

Even after all the planning, nothing worked. Then. Sheik Abdul-Aziz Bin Baz, the Saudis’ leading interpreter of Islamic law, labeled Saddam as the “enemy of God.”

Desert Storm helped secure Bill Clinton's presidency.

Believe it or not, the Desert Storm helped secure Bill Clinton’s presidency. While the Iraqi invasion caused the price of oil to rise double, this led to a worldwide recession in the 90s and the defeat of George H.W. Bush by Bill Clinton during the 1992 presidential election. Even though Bush was a well-liked wartime President, he wasn’t able to continue to hold the name as president.

As a fun fact, Clinton’s election team came up with the famous term, “It’s the economy, stupid,” as their campaign mantra.

Iraq rolled over Kuwait in just two days.

Nothing like the Iran-Iraq War, Iraq’s Elite Republican Guard quickly defeated Kuwaiti forces, reaching Kuwait City in an hour. While it’s among the facts you should know about Operation Desert Storm, they either overran Kuwaitis to the ground or forced them into neighboring Saudi Arabia or the island of Bahrain. And Kuwait had not mobilized for war despite Saddam’s constant threats.

Whenever there was a chance, Kuwaitis would resist and even establish an underground resistance movement—even though it was untrained and literally incapable. When trying to capture Kuwait’s Emir, Iraqis would assault Dasman Palace even when Emir already left. However, Emir’s brother was actually killed right after leading a 12-hour defense of the palace and also outnumbered by an either Iraqi division. In fact, his body was placed right in front of a tank and was crushed.

The US couldn't have prevented Iraq from invading Saudi Arabia.

After the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the UN passed resolutions condemning it and called for the removal of Iraqi troops as well as the nullification of Iraq’s annexation. Even when the Desert Shield started as the US and the coalition took six months creating air and naval forces in the region, this enforced the UN to block Iraq and US from imposed sanctions. Until the buildup, Iraqi forces would overwhelm the Saudi defenses. But the reason Saddam didn’t press his advantages is a mystery.

When the Iraqi forces invaded Saudi Arabia during the January 1991 Battle of Khafji, they captured the city on the night of January 29. But it was too late, because coalition forces had more than enough troops and hardware to fight off the Iraqis. And the attacks were fought off by the US Marines, Army Rangers, and coalition aircraft and the city was immediately caught by Saudi and Qatari forces, which was backed up by US airpower.

The coalition built fake bases and units to trick Iraqis into defending the wrong area.

The coalition building fake bases is one of the facts you should know about Operation Desert Storm. Since they used deception cells to build the impression that they were going to attack by the Kuwaiti “boot heel,” the strategy was implemented. And the Army set up FOB Weasel by the opposite end of the Kuwaiti border, which was a network of fake camps manned only by several dozen soldiers.

With computer-controlled radios, the messages were passed between fictitious headquarters sections. There were also smoke generators and loudspeakers that were playing prerecorded tank and truck noises with inflatable Humvees and helicopters.

More Americans died from HIV infection in 1991 than in Operation Desert Storm.

Yes, this is certainly true. Among the shocking facts you should know about Operation Desert Storm, more Americans died from HIV than the war. It calculated to be about 100,000 Iraqi soldiers that were killed in the incident. As for the US, they only had 383 deaths in the region.

While 1991 was the peak of the HIV/AIDS situation, the infection rates skyrocketed to 15.3 percent from the last year. And HIV/AIDS was the ninth highest cause of death in the US during that year, eliminating about 29,850 Americans. And the number of those infected and dead from the disease would double by 1993.

The war had an enduring impact.

Finally of the interesting facts you should know about Operation Desert Storm is that the war had an enduring impact in the end. Though Desert Storm was largely overshadowed by the more recent Iraq War and the current crisis with ISIS, the impact and relevance remains. Around 697,000 US troops risked their lives when they took part of this war.

While the US continues to be in good standing with many of the countries that were involved in the coalition of the willing today, we can hope that those relationships continue grow in the future.

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Read next: A Comedy of Errors in the British Army UOTC, Part 5
Mike Mavenful

Baby boomer, Pharmacologist, Movie reviewer and proud grandfather.

See all posts by Mike Mavenful