Norman Schwarzkopf dies at 78



H Norman Schwarzkopf, the four-star Army general who led allied forces to a stunningly quick and decisive victory over Saddam Hussein's Iraqi military in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and who became the most celebrated US military hero of his generation, died Thursday in Tampa, Florida. He was 78.

Defence Secretary Leon Panetta confirmed the death in a statement. Schwarzkopf's sister, Ruth Barenbaum, told the Associated Press he had complications from pneumonia.

Little known outside the US military before Hussein's Republican Guard invaded Kuwait in early August 1990, Schwarzkopf planned and led one of the most lopsided military victories in modern military history.

Even before the rapid victory, the general was known as "Stormin' Norman" for his sometimes volcanic temper.

The campaign, designed to expel Hussein's forces and liberate Kuwait, commenced in January 1990 with a 43-day high-tech air assault on Iraq before a massive armored assault force launched a 100-hour ground offensive that inflicted swift and heavy losses on the Iraqis. Schwarzkopf commanded an allied force of more than 540,000 US troops and a total force of 765,000 from 28 countries, plus hundreds of ships and thousands of aircraft, armoured vehicles and tanks.

Broadcast to the nation nonstop on CNN, the war gave the nation and the world its first look at a new American military strategy that used precision-guided bombs dropped from hundreds of aircraft and Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from ships. Both Schwarzkopf and his boss at the Pentagon, Army General Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were Vietnam War veterans who had helped rebuild this force.

Schwarzkopf was accessible to the media throughout the war and became a familiar figure addressing reporters in his desert fatigues. He spoke in plain English, instead of using military jargon.

But the adulation he received from the American public quickly gave way to second-guessing by many historians, who questioned the decision by President George H W Bush and senior members of his administration to end the war after just four days, allowing Hussein to remain in power and much of his Republican Guard to retreat from Kuwait unscathed.

In a television interview after his triumphant return to the United States, Schwarzkopf claimed that he wanted to continue the war. But his assertion was sharply contested by Richard Cheney, then secretary of defence, and Powell, who said that Schwarzkopf had concurred in the decision by President George H W Bush and senior members of his administration to end the ground war after just four days.

Schwarzkopf, who retired in the summer of 1991, backed off his claim in his 1992 memoir, "It Doesn't Take a Hero," for which he received an advance of almost $6 million. He criticised unnamed civilians in the Bush administration for trying to hastily speed commencement of the ground war.

Rick Atkinson, in his 1993 book "Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War," described Schwarzkopf as a volcanic figure who threatened to fire numerous subordinates and often behaved like an imperial dictator. But he concluded that Schwarzkopf made "no significant error of strategy or tactic."

Schwarzkopf does not fare nearly as well in a new book by Thomas Ricks, "The Generals." Ricks faults Schwarzkopf for failing to understand strategic aspects of the war, allowing much of the Republican Guard to escape from Kuwait, and for allowing the Iraqis to fly armed helicopters over Iraq following the end of the ground campaign. Those helicopter gunships were subsequently used to attack and decimate anti-Hussein Shiite uprisings in southern Iraq and Kurdish protests in the north.

The future general was born in Trenton, N J, on August 22, 1934. His father, who was also an Army general, was named Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf, but he disliked his first name so much that he refused to pass it on to his son. So he was H Norman Schwarzkopf Jr.

The elder Schwarzkopf was the founding commander of the New Jersey State Police and was in charge of the investigation that led to the 1934 arrest of Bruno Richard Hauptmann, who was convicted and later executed for kidnapping and killing the toddler son of aviation hero Charles Lindbergh.

From the age of 4, the younger Schwarzkopf determined that he would follow his father to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N Y, and pursue a career as a soldier. He attended a military school in New Jersey, then spent five years overseas with his family from 1946 to 1951.

He spent a year in Iran, where his father trained a national police force and advised the shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, then lived in Switzerland, Germany and Italy. He spoke conversational German and French throughout his life.

After returning to the United States, he spent a year at the Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, Pa., before entering West Point, where he played football, wrestled and sang in the choir. Schwarzkopf, who directed a chapel choir of cadets at West Point — one of his first command positions — had a lifelong love of opera and music.

He graduated in the upper 10th of his class and entered the Army infantry. Between field assignments with airborne and infantry units, he received a master's degree in missile engineering from University of Southern California in 1964.

After a teaching stint at West Point, he went to Vietnam in 1965 as an adviser to Vietnamese airborne troops. He returned for a second tour in 1969 commanding an infantry battalion.

He received a Silver Star and won the respect of his troops for his courageous efforts to rescue soldiers wounded by land mines. In one case, he covered a writhing soldier with his own body, reportedly saying, "Take it easy, son. It's only broken."

In 1970, an errant artillery shell killed a sergeant under Schwarzkopf's command. The soldier's parents launched an investigation, which later become the inspiration for C D B. Bryan's 1976 book "Friendly Fire," which later became a movie. The parents held Schwarzkopf responsible at first, but Bryan portrayed him as an officer of honor and compassion and concluded that the killing was accidental.

"He's a good mud soldier," Lt. General William Carpenter Jr, who served with Schwarzkopf in Vietnam, told The New York Times in 1991. "The most important thing is that he cares about ground troops and he's not about to get them chewed up."

He received his first star as a brigadier general in 1978, then won widespread respect among military brass as deputy commander of the invasion of Grenada in 1983. He held several more high-profile jobs, became a four-star general in 1988 and was named commander of the U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

In the late 1980s, with the Soviet empire collapsing, Schwarzkopf studied the likelihood of future wars and concluded that the Middle East would be the next hot spot. He planned for the possibility that the United States could become embroiled in regional disputes that crossed the borders of US allies.

In July 1990, he led military troops in elaborate war games built around a theoretical invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. Less than a week later, real Iraqi forces marched across the Kuwaiti border.

Schwarzkopf's survivors include his wife of 44 years, Brenda Holsinger Schwarzkopf; three children; and his sister.

Considered a master battlefield tactician who didn't wilt under fire, Schwarzkopf admitted that he felt fear in combat and didn't trust any soldier who didn't.

"Yes, I am antiwar," he told US News & World Report in 1991. "All you have to do is hold your first soldier who is dying in your arms, and have that terribly futile feeling that I can't do anything about it. . . . Then you understand the horror of war."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Ashdown Group: Accountant - London - £48,000 - 12 month FTC

£40000 - £48000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: International Acc...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power