At the hands of an American-led Western coalition, the Iraqi military - touting the 4th largest army in the world - suffered mightily over the span of just twenty-four hours.
The Persian Gulf War of 1991 was the first major 'digitally-assisted' conflict of the modern age - aircraft being armed with advanced 'smart' technology and aided through GPS navigation. Among the various technological debuts for the Americans was the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk 'stealth fighter' which stood out in the opening phases of the air war. The advanced aircraft led the bombing sorties of Day 1 across the night skies over Iraq, clearing the way for the rest of the coalition bombers and strike fighters to come. The weapons of Desert Storm brought together a collection of military equipment stemming from several world powers including Britain and France and was fought from the air, land, and sea against what was once termed 'the fourth largest land army in the world'.
In an area where tribal and religious issues often lead to war, the Persian Gulf War of 1991 was a war about oil as Iraq invaded the small, oil-rich Gulf nation of Kuwait - a United States ally. For the moment, Saddam Hussein of Iraq controlled roughly 24 percent of the world's oil supply and the world assumption of the time assumed oil-rich Saudi Arabia would be targeted next to increase Iraqi control to nearly 44 percent of the world's oil reserves. As it stood, the world powers - under the banner of the United Nations - lay down an unheeded ultimatum to Iraq which led to total war in the region.
In the end, the Iraqi Army was a devastated and broken Third World entity and the nation's infrastructure lay in ruins. Much of her Air Force was either destroyed while still on the ground or fled to neighboring Iran. The ground element of the Iraqi military proved no different as scores of infantry surrendered to the coalition or retreated back onto Iraqi soil. For the Americans, the overwhelming victory helped to clear the still-fresh failure of the Vietnam War and helped to test out all-new technologies on a grand stage. By the end of it all, Saddam Hussein found himself with less of an army to lead, less of a territory to move freely about thanks to enforced 'No-Fly' zones over the north and south of his country, and growing internal instability for the Iraqi dictator.
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