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Operation Desert Storm: 25th anniversary

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Sunday,  January 17, 2016, marks the 25th anniversary of the beginning of Operation Desert Storm, usually called the First Gulf War.

Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 represented a direct assault on an American ally and represented a direct threat to the world's oil supply. Fearing an assault on Saudi Arabia, the United States and other countries worked together to develop a coalition of nations in a military buildup called Operation Desert Shield. The Allied coalition was made up of more than 30 countries. The first U.S. forces, F-15 Eagles from Langley AFB, Va., landed in Saudi Arabia on Aug. 7, 1990 to prevent the feared assault.

Iraqi forces in and around Kuwait had grew to 530,000 in a buildup that clearly indicated Iraq's intent to annex the country, said a Pentagon official on Jan. 3, 1991.
Following a missed deadline for Iraqi forces to withdraw from Kuwait, the Coalition launched an air war against Iraqi forces on Jan. 17, 1990. Consequently, Operation Desert Shield transformed into Operation Desert Storm.

After multiple disagreements between the United Nations and then-Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, President George H.W. Bush made an announcement from the White House briefing room.

"Saddam Hussein was given one last chance. Set forth very explicit terms, to do what he should have done more than six month ago -- withdraw from Kuwait without condition or further delay and comply fully with the resolutions passed by the United Nations Security Council. Regrettably, the noon deadline passed without the agreement of the government of Iraq to meet demands of U.N. Security Council Resolution 660 as set forth in the specific terms spelled out by the coalition to withdraw unconditionally from Kuwait. To the contrary what we have seen is a redoubling of Saddam Hussein's efforts to destroy completely Kuwait and its people. I have therefore directed Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf in conjunction with coalition forces to use all forces available, including ground forces to eject Iraqi army from Kuwait."

After a 38-day air campaign, Gen. Schwarskopf's ground offensive began with allied forces advancing across a wide front into both Iraq and Kuwait. The United States Air Force's air campaign had been so effective in destroying equipment, personnel and morale that the Iraqi army was crushed after a mere 100 hours. Iraqi troops--tired, hungry and war-weary from six months of economic blockade, and more than a month of relentless allied bombing, surrendered en masses.

During this time Tyndall was a training base and the involvement with the campaign was primarily training and support focused.

"At the time, Tyndall trained all the air-to-air F-15 Eagle pilots, and since so many F-15s were involved, this was the base's most significant contribution to the war," said Ted Roberts, 325th Fighter Wing historian. "Tyndall deployed numerous of support personnel, including maintainers, force providers - just about everyone across the spectrum."