First Gulf War - 25 Years Later
The first Gulf War, or Operation Desert Storm as it was called, took place 25 years ago. On January 16 1991, cruise missiles and tons of bombs fell on Iraq's capital, Baghdad , in an attempt to force dictator Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, which he had invaded a few months earlier.
Saddam Hussein's army, at that time the fourth largest in the world, was driven out of Kuwait after air bombardment that lasted over a month and a ground war of 4 days.
The United States led an international coalition force, which included 39 countries. In the course of 6 months 500 000 American troops were brought to Saudi Arabia, which also supported the west with air bases.
For the first time since the Vietnam War Americans used new weapons in combat, which showed their military strength . It was also the first time that a war was shown on live television, with CNN leading the way.
The decision to go to war with Iraq was made in the UN Security Council. All of its members agreed that they could not let Iraq get away with invading a neighbouring country. The Iraqi dictator claimed that Kuwait was pumping oil out of Iraqi oil fields.
The first Gulf War destroyed Iraqi combat lines and infrastructure. It was a one-sided battle in which Iraqi forces suffered many casualties. The goal of Operation Desert Storm was only to liberate Kuwait, not to march on to Baghdad and oust the Iraqi dictator. That happened 12 years later, when Saddam was still in power.
The American Defence Department estimated that the first Gulf War cost about 61 billion dollars. More than half was paid by Saudi Arabia and other nations in the region.
American planes on the ground in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War
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- agree = to be of the same opinion
- air base = place from which military airplanes can take off and land
- air bombardment = to attack a place with bombs dropped from airplanes
- attempt = try
- battle = fight
- billion = a thousand million
- capital = the most important city in a country; where the government is
- casualties = people hurt or killed in a war
- claim = to say that something is true
- coalition force = soldiers from many different countries fight together
- combat = fighting
- combat lines = roads that are needed to transport soldiers, food etc...
- cruise missile = a rocket that is controlled by a computer; it can fly very low and carry powerful bombs
- decision = choice you make after thinking about other possibilities
- Defence Department = American government organisation that is in charge of the military
- destroy = to damage something completely so that you cannot use it any more
- drive out of = make someone leave
- estimate = to calculate the cost of something
- force = to make someone do something
- forces = soldiers of a country's army
- get away with = to do something bad without being punished
- goal = aim
- ground war = war with fighting on the ground
- infrastructure = the basic systems that a country needs, like roads, bridges, schools etc...
- in the course of = after a period of ...
- include = to have in it
- in power = here: head of the country, dictator
- invade = to enter a country with an army and take control of it
- lead = to be in the front position
- liberate = to help a country to become free
- one-sided = here: one side is much stronger than the other
- oust = remove from power
- Security Council = part of the United Nations that tries to keep peace and stop conflicts around the world; there are fifteen members in the Security Council
- strength = how strong something is
- support = help
- troops = soldiers
- weapon = object you use to fight, like a gun, knife or bomb