Retired U.S. General Norman Schwarzkopf, who led
Operation Desert Storm - the international coalition into Kuwait in
1991 to oust Iraqi forces from the country - died Thursday in Florida
at age 78.
Schwarzkopf, one of the best-known military officers in the US, was a "brilliant strategist and inspiring leader," US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said. Panetta praised Schwarzkopf for 35 years of service that "left an indelible imprint on the United States military and on the country."
Noting Schwarzkopf's service in three conflicts - the Vietnam war, Grenada and the first Gulf war - Panetta said in the latter "General Schwarzkopf's skilled leadership of that campaign liberated the Kuwaiti people and produced a decisive victory for the allied coalition."
The cause of death was not immediately available.
The decision to go to war in the Persian Gulf came during the presidency of George HW Bush. In a statement from Houston, where he is in hospital, Bush called Schwarzkopf "one of the great military leaders of his generation."
Colin Powell, who was chairm of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during Operation Desert Storm, remembered Schwarzkopf Friday as "a great patriot and a great soldier." Powell said, "He was a good friend of mine, a close buddy. I will miss him."
In the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections Scwharzkopf supported President George W Bush, who also issued a statement Friday, saying "Barbara and I mourn the loss of a true American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his generation."
Schwarzkopf, an imposing figure who stood more than 187 centimetres tall and weighed more than 109 kilogrammes, emerged from the Gulf with the nickname Stormin' Norman. His so-called left hook strategy of going into Kuwait behind Iraqi forces was widely credited with a rapid routing of the Iraqi forces in just four days.
Prior to the war Schwarzkopf was a four-star general who commanded the US Central Command in Florida. In that post he oversaw military activities in 19 countries in the Middle East and Africa. He also developed a strategy for the defence of the oil fields in the Persian Gulf against a hypothetical invasion by Iraq.
In August 1990 when Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait,
those plans became the basis for Operation Desert Storm. Schwarzkopf later supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003, which led to the ouster of Saddam.
Schwarzkopf, born August 22, 1934, in Trenton, New Jersey, attended a military school as a boy, and from 1946 to 1950 he lived in Iran, Switzerland, Germany and Italy with his father, who was a decorated Army officer. He graduate from the US Military Academy at West Point in 1956.
In Vietnam, Schwarzkopf served two tours, first as an adviser to a South Vietnamese airborne division in 1965, then as a battalion commander in his second tour in 1969-70. He was wounded twice and won three Silver Stars for bravery.
In recent years he was out of the limelight, but he served on corporate boards, promoted prostate-cancer awareness and raised money for charities that help abused or abandoned children.
Schwarzkopf and his wife, Brenda, had three children.
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