'Stormin' Norman' Schwarzkopf dies at 78

Sat, Dec 29, 2012, 00:00

Norman Schwarzkopf jnr, the United States general whose forces smashed the Iraqi army in the 1991 Gulf War, has died at the age of 78, an official said yesterday.

Gen Schwarzkopf, a burly Vietnam War veteran known to his troops as Stormin’ Norman, commanded more than 540,000 US and 200,000 allied soldiers in a six-week war that drove Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait in 1991, capping his 34-year military career.

Some experts hailed Gen Schwarzkopf’s plan to trick and outflank Saddam’s forces with a sweeping armoured movement as one of the great accomplishments in military history. The manoeuvre ended the ground war in only 100 hours.

In a statement released by the White House, President Barack Obama called Gen Schwarzkopf “an American original” whose “legacy will endure in a nation that is more secure because of his patriotic service”.

Former US president George Bush snr, who built the international coalition against Iraq after the invasion of Kuwait, said he and his wife “mourn the loss of a true American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his generation”, according to a statement released by his spokesman. Mr Bush has been in hospital in Houston since late November.

Physical presence

Gen Schwarzkopf was a familiar sight on television during the war, clad in camouflage fatigues and a cap. He conducted fast-paced briefings and reviewed his troops with a purposeful stride and a physical presence of the sort that clears bar rooms.

Little known before Iraqi forces invaded neighbouring Kuwait, he made a splash with quotable comments. At one briefing he addressed Saddam’s military reputation.

“As far as Saddam Hussein being a great military strategist,” he said, “he is neither a strategist, nor is he schooled in the operational arts, nor is he a tactician, nor is he a general, nor is he a soldier. Other than that, he’s a great military man, I want you to know that.”

Gen Schwarzkopf returned from the war a hero and there was talk of him running for public office. Instead, he wrote an autobiography, It Doesn’t Take a Hero.

After retirement, Schwarzkopf spoke his mind on military matters. In 2003, when the United States was on the verge of invading Iraq under President George W Bush, Schwarzkopf said he was unsure whether there was sufficient evidence that Iraq had nuclear weapons. – (Reuters)