Wright-Patterson reflects on 25th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- On Aug. 2, 1990, Iraqi forces invaded and overwhelmed Kuwait, a small neighboring nation to the southeast of Iraq. The United Nations condemned Saddam Hussein's occupation of the nation and called for an immediate withdrawal. President George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, ordered U.S. forces to deploy to the Persian Gulf and announced the beginning of Operation Desert Shield Aug. 7, 1990.

Just three days later, personnel from across Wright-Patterson began to answer the nation's call as they started to deploy to the area of responsibility. The operation would soon become a Total Force response among active duty, Guard, and Reserve forces.

On Aug. 10, 1990, three individuals from the Foreign Technology Division represented the first deployment of Wright-Patterson personnel in support of the operation. On Aug. 20, 1990, 17 members of the 401st Combat Logistics Squadron, 906th Tactical Fighter Group, deployed to Saudi Arabia as a C-130 battle damage repair team. Two days later, the Wright-Patterson Medical Center deployed a four-member Air Transportable Clinic overseas. Just one month later, the 64th Ordnance Detachment, with 14 soldiers and 34.5 short tons of cargo, became the first U.S. Army unit to deploy through the base. The event marked Wright-Patterson's initial service as an aerial port of embarkation under Operation Desert Shield.

On Nov. 29, 1990, the United Nations Security Council voted 12-0 to give Iraq six weeks to withdraw from Kuwait, establishing a Jan. 15, 1991 deadline. If Iraq did not comply by that date, U.S. and coalition forces would be free to launch military operations to force Iraq out of Kuwait. On Jan. 12, 1991, Congress authorized the president to use military forces to oust Iraq from Kuwait.

During the early morning hours of Jan. 17, 1991, the U.S. and its coalition allies launched a massive air offensive, code named Operation Desert Storm, against the territory of Iraq and Iraqi positions within Kuwait. Due to the time difference between the U.S. and the Persian Gulf, news of the offensive reached the American public during the early evening hours of Jan. 16, 1991. Coalition aircraft proceeded to lead the largest air campaign since the conflict in Southeast Asia to enforce a UN resolution that demanded Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait. The attacks drove Saddam Hussein and his leadership underground, heavily damaging critical military support networks such as command and control, communications and intelligence capabilities, integrated air defenses and power generation. During the 12 months ending July 31, 1991, the 445th Airlift Wing flew a total of 25,346.4 hours, which was equivalent to 425 percent of their pre-scheduled hours. Aircrews flew 16,051.5 of those hours from the first of January to the end of May, or 823 percent of their pre-scheduled hours.

At approximately 8 p.m. on Feb. 24, 1991, the U.S. and its allies launched the ground phase of Operation Desert Storm. Just three days later, President Bush suspended combat operations and declared Kuwait liberated. The cease fire order went into effect in the area on Feb. 28, 1991, and on March 13, 1991, troops began to redeploy to and through Wright-Patterson.

Personnel from across Wright-Patterson played key roles in the success of Operation Desert Storm, the first conflict in history to make comprehensive use of stealth and space systems support capabilities against a modern, integrated air defense. The direct contributions of strategic air campaigns supported by the employment of revolutionary technology by Total Force Airmen including active duty, Guard and Reserve, DOD civilians and contractors enabled battlefield success.

From Aug. 10, 1990, through the end of hostilities, there were deployments and homecomings for 939 Wright-Patterson personnel and 21 Army units with over 4,225 soldiers, according to an official 2750th Air Base Wing Historian report dated Nov. 1, 1993.

For the Air Force, the initial phase of the air campaign sought air superiority. It used an arsenal of more than 30 aircraft types flying more than 69,000 sorties, ultimately propelling the Air Force to gain and maintain control of the air domain.

Technology employment during Desert Storm revolutionized the way the U.S. fights wars today -- game-changing technology like autonomy, hypersonics, directed energy and nanoscience will make and keep the fight unfair for future challenges our Nation may face.