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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Norman Schwarzkopf, retired US general, dies aged 78

Norman Schwarzkopf, retired US general, dies aged 78

Retired US General Norman Schwarzkopf, who led troops in the 1991 Gulf War, has died aged 78.

Gen Schwarzkopf - known as Stormin' Norman - was commander of coalition forces in the first Gulf War in 1990-91.

The US-led coalition drove Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait.

Former US President George H W Bush described Gen Schwarzkopf as "one of the great military leaders of his generation".

Gen Schwarzkopf spent his retirement in Tampa, Florida, where he had served in his last military assignment as commander-in-chief of US Central Command.

His military success made him one of America's most famous modern generals, although some criticised him for negotiating ceasefire terms which allowed Saddam Hussein to remain in power, says the BBC's Ben Wright in Washington.

President Bush, who was in office during the first Gulf War, said he "mourned the loss" of Gen Schwarzkopf, "one of the great military leaders of his generation".

Mr Bush, who remains in intensive care at the Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, issued a statement, saying: "A distinguished member of that Long Gray Line hailing from West Point, General Schwarzkopf, to me, epitomised the 'duty, service, country' creed that has defended our freedom and seen this great nation through our most trying international crises.

"More than that, he was a good and decent man - and a dear friend. Barbara and I send our condolences to his wife Brenda and his wonderful family."

US Republican Senator John McCain tweeted that Gen Schwarzkopf was "one of the great American heroes".

"We thank him for his service," he said.

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta also paid tribute to the general, saying his 35 years of service had "left an indelible imprint on the United States military and on the country".

"His bravery during two tours in Vietnam earned him three silver stars, and set him on the path to lead our troops into battle in Grenada, and then to take charge of the overall allied effort in the first Gulf War as Commander of United States Central Command," he said.

"General Schwarzkopf's skilled leadership of that campaign liberated the Kuwaiti people and produced a decisive victory for the allied coalition.

"In the aftermath of that war, General Schwarzkopf was justly recognised as a brilliant strategist and inspiring leader. Today, we recall that enduring legacy and remember him as one of the great military giants of the 20th Century."

During Operation Desert Storm, Gen Schwarzkopf famously used one of his regular news conferences to taunt his opponent.

"As far as Saddam Hussein being a great military strategist, he is neither a strategist, nor is schooled in the operational art, 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," he said.

Gen Schwarzkopf's sometimes fiery temper meant that he clashed with subordinates and superiors alike, including the then Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen Colin Powell.

Despite this and his bluff appearance, he was smarter and more diplomatic than many critics gave him credit for, says BBC world affairs correspondent Nick Childs.

After the first Gulf War Gen Schwarzkopf became a national celebrity, but always rejected suggestions that he run for office himself.

Stormin’ Norman,’ 1934–2012
By Mark ThompsonDec. 27, 2012

For those who came of age during World War II, or post-9/11, the death Thursday of retired Army general H. Norman Schwarzkopf may not be of great moment. But for those of us who came of age during Vietnam, when that war veered from the discredited Gulf of Tonkin to the Tet Offensive to Kent State, he was a godsend.

While there was trepidation before the Persian Gulf War began in January 1991 — a six-week bombing onslaught followed by a 96-hour ground campaign — it pitted a Cold War superpower against Iraqi despot Saddam Hussein (it was a mismatch that would have to be replayed 12 years later). Nonetheless, the U.S. went wild after the U.S.-led coalition pushed Iraqi forces out of Kuwait.

After a six-month buildup in Saudi Arabia that looked like a martial bolero, Schwarzkopf burst into American living rooms just about the same time CNN did. As intrepid Cable News Network crews stationed in Baghdad followed the twists and turns of incoming Tomahawk cruise missiles, Schwarzkopf briefed reporters from his headquarters in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, two weeks into the war.

“I’m now going to show you a picture of the luckiest man in Iraq,” Schwarzkopf said as a video of an air strike against an Iraqi bridge appeared on a television screen. “Keep your eye on the crosshairs.” A vehicle appeared, driving across the bridge, as an American pilot targeted the span. The truck drove into, and across, the bomber’s crosshairs, and then scooted off screen. “And now, in his rear-view mirror,” Schwarzkopf quipped, as an explosion filled the screen, destroying the bridge, but leaving the Iraqi truck driver alive.

Schwarzkopf was a bona fide American hero, complete with a New York parade and talks of a presidential run. There had been no such military heroes in this country since World War II’s Dwight Eisenhower. “By God,” declared President George H.W. Bush, himself now ailing at a Houston hospital, “we’ve licked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all.”

The son of the superintendent of the New Jersey state police, who investigated the kidnapping and murder of aviator Charles Lindbergh’s infant son in 1932, Schwarzkopf made the Army his career. He won recognition in Vietnam for taking care of the soldiers under his command and ended up as the third commander of U.S. Central Command, the Pentagon post responsible for the Middle East and Persian Gulf region, in 1988. (His two most recent successors, Army General David Petraeus and incumbent Marine General John Allen, have found their careers derailed, at least temporarily, by scandal.)

“General Schwarzkopf’s skilled leadership of that campaign liberated the Kuwaiti people and produced a decisive victory for the allied coalition,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday night. “In the aftermath of that war, General Schwarzkopf was justly recognized as a brilliant strategist and inspiring leader.”

Following his incandescent fame, Schwarzkopf retired to Tampa six months after the Gulf War’s end. He died there, of complications related to pneumonia, at 78.

Reporters had their own shorthand to spell his complicated surname right: “War Kop, no T.” Battleland can recall taking his two young sons to the Gulf War victory parade in Washington on June 8, 1991, down by the Lincoln Memorial. He was proud to show them what the U.S. military can do when the stars align.

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