Desert Shield/Desert Storm Basic Timeline

Events that occurred between 1990 and 1991 during the Gulf War

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Before Iraq invaded Kuwait in August of 1990, the reason was mainly over oil production and land border dispute. The Iraqi and Kuwaiti governments were contributors to the global oil market as part of OPEC - Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. For prices to be competitive for all players, a disciplined production quota is required by all countries. Iraq accused Kuwait of exceeding that quota in 1989 causing Iraq to lose billions in oil revenues. Iraq called this "economic warfare" by it's neighbor and soon invaded, looted, and destroyed many of their oil fields. Here is a timeline for events that occurred during Operation Desert Storm in 1990 and Desert Shield, which followed in 1991.

Operation Desert Storm 1990

  • August 2 - Iraq invaded Kuwait. President George Bush condemned Iraq's "naked aggression" and states that the United States is considering all options. The aircraft carrier CV-62 USS Independence was moved towards the Persian Gulf.
  • August 6 - Saudi Arabia requested assistance from the United States.
  • August 7 - Operation Desert Shield commenced. The first U.S. forces arrived in Saudi Arabia, consisting of F-15 Eagle fighters from Langley Air Force Base, VA.
  • August 12 - A naval blockade of Iraq began, and all shipments of Iraqi oil halted. An Air Force sergeant became the first fatality of Operation Desert Shield when he was hit by a military truck in Saudi Arabia.
  • August 22 - President George Bush issued an executive order authorizing the first call-up of Selected Reservists to active duty for 90 days.
  • August 23 - Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney authorized call-up of 25,000 Army National Guard personnel and Reservists in combat support and service units.
  • November 8 - President George Bush ordered more U.S. troops to the Gulf.
  • November 12 - Call-up was widened in subsequent authorizations and the period of service was extended to 180 days by executive order.
  • November 29 - United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 was passed, which gave Iraq a withdrawal deadline until 15 January 1991 as well as authorizing "all necessary means to uphold and implement Resolution 660" and a diplomatic formulation that authorized the use of force should Iraq failed to comply.

Operation Desert Shield 1991

  • January 12 - United States Congress granted President George Bush the necessary authority to wage war to end Iraq's occupation of Kuwait.
  • January 17 - Operation Desert Storm began with an extensive aerial bombing campaign, 3 a.m. (January 16, 7 p.m. Eastern time). Iraq attacked Israel with seven Scud missiles. U.S. Patriot missile successfully intercepted first Scud, over Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
  • January 18 - President Bush authorized the call-up of up to 1 million National Guardsmen and Reservist for up to two years.
  • January 19 - DoD announced the deployment of Europe-based Patriot missiles and crews to Israel.
  • January 25 - Sabotage of Kuwait loading pier by Iraqi dumped millions of barrels of oil into the Persian Gulf, creating a massive oil slick.
  • January 29 - Iraqis attacked Khafji, Saudi Arabia.
  • January 31 - Iraq captured first U.S. female prisoner of war.
  • February 21 - Award of the National Defense Service Medal was authorized.
  • February 22 - President George Bush issued a 24-hour ultimatum that Iraq must withdraw from Kuwait to avoid the start of a ground war.
  • February 23 - Iraqis ignited an estimated 700 oil wells in Kuwait.
  • February 24 - Allied ground assault began at 4 a.m. (February 23, 8 p.m. Eastern time).
  • February 25 - Iraqi Scud destroyed U.S. barracks in Dhahran, killing 28 U.S. military personnel.
  • February 27 - President George Bush declared Kuwait liberated, and suspended all U.S. and allied force offensive operations, exactly 100 hours after the ground battle started and six weeks to the day since air attacks were launched against Iraq.
  • February 28 - Cessation of hostilities declared, 8:01 a.m. (12:01 a.m. Eastern time).
  • March 1 - Cease-fire terms negotiated in Safwan, Iraq.
  • March 13 - Award of the Southwest Asia Service medal was authorized.
  • March 17 - DoD announced first troop redeployment home, that of the 24th Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, GA.
  • April 5 - President Bush announced U.S. relief supply airdrops to Kurdish refugees in Turkey and northern Iraq.
  • April 6 - Iraq officially accepted cease-fire terms. Task Force Provide Comfort formed and deployed.
  • April 7 - U.S. transports delivered 72,000 pounds of supplies in the first of six Operation Provide Comfort missions.
  • April 11 - Cease-fire took effect.
  • April 20 - Construction of the first Provide Comfort tent city began near Zakhu, Iraq.
  • June 7 - United Nations commission assumed responsibility for Kurdish refugees.

Information Courtesy of American Forces Information Service, the 1991 "Defense Almanac.," and CNN 2001 Gulf War Special report.