U.S. Army General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, pictured in 1991.
File photo from Reuters.
Norman Schwarzkopf Jr., the hard-charging U.S. Army
general whose forces smashed the Iraqi army in the 1991 Gulf
War, has died at the age of 78, a U.S. official says.
The highly decorated four-star general died at 2.22pm (local
time) at his home in Tampa, Florida, said the official, who
spoke on condition of anonymity. The cause of death was not
Schwarzkopf, a burly Vietnam War veteran known to his troops
as Stormin' Norman, commanded more than 540,000 U.S. troops
and 200,000 allied forces in a six-week war that routed Iraqi
leader Saddam Hussein's army from Kuwait in 1991, capping his
34-year military career.
Some experts hailed Schwarzkopf's plan to trick and outflank
Hussein's forces with a sweeping armored movement as one of
the great accomplishments in military history. The maneuver
ended the ground war in only 100 hours.
In a statement released by the White House, President Barack
Obama called Schwarzkopf "an American original" whose "legacy
will endure in a nation that is more secure because of his
Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, who built the
international coalition against Iraq after the invasion of
Kuwait, said he and his wife "mourn the loss of a true
American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his
generation," according to a statement released by his
Bush has been hospitalised in Houston since late November.
Schwarzkopf was a familiar sight on international television
during the war, clad in camouflage fatigues and a cap. He
conducted fast-paced briefings and reviewed his troops with a
purposeful stride and a physical presence of the sort that
clears bar rooms.
Little known before Iraqi forces invaded neighboring Kuwait,
Schwarzkopf made a splash with quotable comments. At one
briefing he addressed Saddam's military reputation.
"As far as Saddam Hussein being a great military strategist,"
he said, "he is neither a strategist, nor is he schooled in
the operational arts, 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."
Schwarzkopf returned from the war a hero and there was talk
of him running for public office. Instead, he wrote an
autobiography - "It Doesn't Take a Hero" - and served as a
He also acted as a spokesman for the fight against prostate
cancer, with which he was diagnosed in 1993.
Schwarzkopf was born on August 22, 1934, in Trenton, New
Jersey, the son of Colonel H. Norman Schwarzkopf Sr., the
head of the New Jersey State Police.
At the time, the older Schwarzkopf was leading the
investigation of the kidnapping and murder of aviator Charles
Lindbergh's infant son, one of the most infamous crimes of
the 20th century.
The younger Schwarzkopf graduated from the U.S. Military
Academy at West Point, New York, in 1956. He earned a masters
degree in guided-missile engineering from the University of
Southern California and later taught engineering at West
Schwarzkopf saw combat twice - in Vietnam and Grenada - in a
career that included command of units from platoon to theater
size, training as a paratrooper and stints at Army staff
Chestful of medals
He led his men in firefights in two tours of Vietnam and
commanded all U.S. ground forces in the 1983 Grenada
invasion. His chestful of medals included three Silver and
three Bronze Stars for valor and two Purple Hearts for
In Vietnam, he won a reputation as an officer who would put
his life on the line to protect his troops. In one
particularly deadly fight on the Batangan Peninsula,
Schwarzkopf led his men through a minefield, in part by
having the mines marked with shaving cream.
In 1988, Schwarzkopf was put in charge of the U.S. Central
Command in Tampa, with responsibility for the Horn of Africa,
the Middle East and South Asia. In that role, he prepared a
plan to protect the Gulf's oil fields from a hypothetical
invasion by Iraq. Within months, the plan was in use.
A soldier's soldier in an era of polished, politically
conscious military technocrats, Schwarzkopf's mouth sometimes
got him in trouble. In one interview, he said he had
recommended to Bush that allied forces destroy Iraq's
military instead of stopping the war after a clear victory.
Schwarzkopf later apologised after both Bush and Defense
Secretary Dick Cheney fired back that there was no
contradiction among military leaders to Bush's decision to
leave some of Saddam's military intact.
After retirement, Schwarzkopf spoke his mind on military
matters. In 2003, when the United States was on the verge of
invading Iraq under President George W. Bush, Schwarzkopf
said he was unsure whether there was sufficient evidence that
Iraq had nuclear weapons.
He also criticised Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defence
at the time, telling the Washington Post that during
war-time television appearances "he almost sometimes seems to
be enjoying it."
Schwarzkopf and his wife, Brenda, who he married in 1968, had
two daughters and one son.
In a statement, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta praised
Schwarzkopf as "one of the great military giants of the 20th
General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, said he "embodied the warrior spirit," and called the
victory over Hussein's forces the hallmark of his career.