• Schwarzkopf, who led 1991 Operation Desert Storm, dies at 78
    By
     | December 28,2012
     

    WASHINGTON — Retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who topped an illustrious military career by commanding the U.S.-led international coalition that drove Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait in 1991 but kept a low public profile in controversies over the second Gulf War against Iraq, died Thursday. He was 78.

    Schwarzkopf died in Tampa, Fla., where he had lived in retirement, according to a U.S. official, who was not authorized to release the information publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

    A much-decorated combat soldier in Vietnam, Schwarzkopf was known popularly as “Stormin’ Norman” for a notoriously explosive temper.

    He served in his last military assignment in Tampa as commander-in-chief of U.S. Central Command, the headquarters responsible for U.S. military and security concerns in nearly 20 countries from the eastern Mediterranean and Africa to Pakistan.

    Schwarzkopf became “CINC-Centcom” in 1988 and when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait three years later to punish it for allegedly stealing Iraqi oil reserves, he commanded Operation Desert Storm, the coalition of some 30 countries organized by President George H.W. Bush that succeeded in driving the Iraqis out.

    “Gen. Norm Schwarzkopf, to me, epitomized the ‘duty, service, country’ creed that has defended our freedom and seen this great nation through our most trying international crises,” Bush said in a statement. “More than that, he was a good and decent man — and a dear friend.”

    At the peak of his postwar national celebrity, Schwarzkopf — a self-proclaimed political independent — rejected suggestions that he run for office, and remained far more private than other generals, although he did serve briefly as a military commentator for NBC.

    While focused primarily in his later years on charitable enterprises, he campaigned for President George W. Bush in 2000 but was ambivalent about the 2003 invasion of Iraq, saying he doubted victory would be as easy as the White House and Pentagon predicted. In early 2003 he told the Washington Post the outcome was an unknown:

    “What is postwar Iraq going to look like, with the Kurds and the Sunnis and the Shiites? That’s a huge question, to my mind. It really should be part of the overall campaign plan,” he said.

    Initially Schwarzkopf had endorsed the invasion, saying he was convinced that former Secretary of State Colin Powell had given the United Nations powerful evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. After that proved false, he said decisions to go to war should depend on what U.N. weapons inspectors found.

    He seldom spoke up during the conflict, but in late 2004, he sharply criticized then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon for mistakes that included inadequate training for Army reservists sent to Iraq and for erroneous judgments about Iraq.

    “In the final analysis I think we are behind schedule. ... I don’t think we counted on it turning into jihad (holy war),” he said in an NBC interview.

    Schwarzkopf was born Aug. 24, 1934, in Trenton, N.J., where his father, Col. H. Norman Schwarzkopf Jr., founder and commander of the New Jersey State Police, was then leading the investigation of the Lindbergh kidnap case, which ended with the arrest and 1936 execution of German-born carpenter Richard Hauptmann for stealing and murdering the famed aviator’s infant son.

    The elder Schwarzkopf was named Herbert, but when the son was asked what his “H’’ stood for, he would reply, “H.” Although reputed to be short-tempered with aides and subordinates, he was a friendly, talkative and even jovial figure who didn’t like “Stormin’ Norman” and preferred to be known as “the Bear,” a sobriquet given him by troops.

    He also was outspoken at times, including when he described Gen. William Westmoreland, the U.S. commander in Vietnam, as “a horse’s ass” in an Associated Press interview.

    As a teenager Norman accompanied his father to Iran, where the elder Schwarzkopf trained the country’s national police force and was an adviser to Reza Pahlavi, the young Shah of Iran.

    Young Norman studied there and in Switzerland, Germany and Italy, then followed in his father’s footsteps to West Point, graduating in 1956 with an engineering degree. After stints in the U.S. and abroad, he earned a master’s degree in engineering at the University of Southern California and later taught missile engineering at West Point.

    In 1966 he volunteered for Vietnam and served two tours, first as a U.S. adviser to South Vietnamese paratroops and later as a battalion commander in the U.S. Army’s Americal Division. He earned three Silver Stars for valor — including one for saving troops from a minefield — plus a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and three Distinguished Service Medals.

    While many career officers left military service embittered by Vietnam, Schwarzkopf was among those who opted to stay and help rebuild the tattered Army into a potent, modernized all-volunteer force.

    MORE IN Wire News
    LOS ANGELES — A thunderstorm formed so rapidly over a Southern California beach that experts said... Full Story
    Rare storm at California beach hard to see coming
    WASHINGTON — The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday it is proposing a $12 million civil... Full Story
    FAA proposes to fine Southwest Airlines $12M
    SHAKHTARSK, Ukraine — Heavy fighting raged Monday around the Malaysia Airlines debris field, once... Full Story
    Police team turns back from Ukraine crash site
    More Articles
  •  
     
    • MEDIA GALLERY 
    • VIDEOS
    • PHOTOS