Schwarzkopf, architect of Operation Desert Storm, dies at 78

By on Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Retired Army Gen. Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf — nicknamed “Stormin’ Norman” — died Dec. 27, in Tampa, Fla., at the age of 78, due to complications from pneumonia. Schwarzkopf became well-known to Americans in 1991 as commander of U.S. Central Command and commander of coalition forces during Operation Desert Storm.

“Our nation has lost a Soldier and Statesman with the passing of General Norman Schwarzkopf,” wrote Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh and Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno in a joint statement. “Our prayers are with his family as we honor the memories of a man dedicated to family, his country and the many Soldiers he led in war and peace.”

The Army’s senior leadership went on to say that Schwarzkopf’s legacy will be the Soldiers he left behind.

“His life story touches on much of the fabric of our nation’s story, ensuring his memory will remain with us for generations,” McHugh and Odierno wrote. “Our nation owes a great debt of gratitude to General Schwarzkopf and our Soldiers will hold a special place in their hearts for this great leader. While much will be written in coming days of his many accomplishments, his most lasting and important legacies are the tremendous Soldiers he trained and led.”

Schwarzkopf graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 1956, twice served as an instructor at the school and went on to serve two one-year tours in Vietnam, first in 1965, and again in 1969.

From Nov. 1988 to August 1991, Schwarzkopf served as commander in chief, United States Central Command, at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. In that role he also served as commander of coalition forces in 1991 for both Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.

As commander of USCENTCOM, Schwarzkopf developed a plan against an Iraqi aggression in the Persian Gulf. It was that plan that helped the U.S.-led coalition defeat Iraqi forces just 210 days after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Operation Desert Storm lasted only 42 days, starting with the initial bombing campaigns on Jan. 17, 1991. The ground portion of the conflict lasted just 100 hours, beginning with initial U.S. entry into Kuwait on Feb. 24, and ending Feb. 28, with a cease-fire, an end to the war, and the liberation of Kuwait.

Key to the success of the ground war to liberate Kuwait was Schwarzkopf’s “left hook” strategy — a flanking maneuver where instead of attacking Iraqi forces in Kuwait by crossing directly into that country from Saudi Arabia, coalition forces instead entered Iraq from Saudi Arabia and then entered Kuwait from Iraq, by moving west across the Iraq-Kuwait border.

During his career, Schwarzkopf earned, among other awards, three Distinguished Service Medals, three Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit and a Distinguished Flying Cross. He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Brenda, and his three children, Cynthia, Jessica and Christian.

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