Norman Schwarzkopf dies at 78

 

Washington

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?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Manager

£40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity working ...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Journals Manager

£33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The prime focus of the role is to assist...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Administrator - Chinese Speaking

£17000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly growing company is...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks