Details/Information for Canadian Forces (CF) Operation FRICTION

CF Overseas Operations have most often operated within the construct of an international mandate. As such, the International Information is presented first in order to provide the context of the Canadian Operation (displayed second). Eventually, all rotations associated with the particular Canadian operation will also be displayed.

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International Information

International Operation Name:  Gulf War

International Mission Name:  Gulf War

Mandating Organization:  United Nations

Region Name:  Middle East

Location:  Kuwait, Iraq

Mission Date:  8/2/1990 - 4/6/1991

Mission/Operation Notes:

Asserting that Kuwait was properly an integral part of Iraq – its 19th province in fact – the Government of Saddam Hussein launched an invasion of the oil-rich state on 2 August 1990. Kuwait was occupied in less than a day.

The United States immediately began to put together a coalition to protect Saudi Arabia and its oil fields, and to persuade Iraq to leave Kuwait. Indeed, on 7 August Saudi Arabia asked the US to station American troops on its territory to protect the Kingdom.

The United Nations also took up the issue. On 2 August the Security Council approved Resolution 660, which asserted that Iraq posed a threat to peace and demanded that it withdraw its forces from Kuwait. When no progress was made, resolution No. 661 was passed on 6 August, launching an embargo against all transactions with Iraq, except for the delivery of medical supplies and foodstuffs. This was a Chapter VII resolution.

With the embargo having limited effect, the Security Council passed Resolution No. 665 on 25 August under Chapter VII authorizing maritime forces to use measures commensurate with enforcing Resolution 661. The final significant act was Resolution 678 on 29 November. It authorized the use of force to ensure Iraqi compliance with all Security Council resolutions if Iraq did not withdraw from Kuwait by 15 January 1991.

The Iraqi military seemed to pose a significant threat. The army had over 1,000,000 soldiers, including the Republican Guard of almost 80,000 troops, equipped with more than 5,500 tanks, including the most modern T-72s, and over 3,000 artillery pieces.

The Iraqi Air Force was assessed as having a highly credible capability. In terms of equipments, it had over 750 French and Soviet aircraft including 500 fighters and fighter-bombers. These included Mirage F-1, MiG- 21, MiG-23, MiG-25 and MiG-29 fighter and interceptor aircraft and Sukhoi Su-20/22 and Su-25 close support aircraft. In addition, the air defence system included some of the most modern and capable French and Soviet equipment. Offensively, Iraq fielded a variety of surface-to-surface missiles, including Scuds, and while these were not the most accurate types, they could reach targets as far away as Israel.

Most worrisome was the fact that Iraq was known to have chemical weapons – blister agents like mustard gas as well as nerve agents like sarin and tabun – and the means of delivering them. And of course, such weapons had already been used internally – and in the long drawn-out war against Iran.

Although efforts at finding a negotiated settlement continued, coalition forces gathered strength in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States from August 1990 to January 1991. Ultimately, Security Council Resolution 678 gave Iraq until 15 January to withdraw its forces from Kuwait. That did not happen, and at 0300 Baghdad time on 17 January 1991an air campaign was launched against Iraqi military targets in Kuwait and Iraq. Designated Operation Desert Storm, at the outset the air campaign was designed to destroy Iraq’s command, control, and communications infrastructure and its air defence system. Fielded forces were attacked thereafter. For its part, Iraq launched its first Scud missile against Saudi Arabia on 17 January, and began blowing up oil wells in Kuwait on 22 February.

The ground war commenced on 24 February, and coalition forces made rapid progress against Iraqi troops, which had been shattered by over a month of aerial bombardment. The next day Iraq launched a Scud missile attack against Israel in an attempt to draw that country into the fighting and, perhaps, break up the US-led coalition. Israel did not take the bait, and by 28 February, after just 100 hours of ground operations, the Iraqis had been pushed out of Kuwait. US President George H. Bush declared a unilateral cease-fire that same day; Iraq agreed to abide by the terms and the UN Resolutions on 3 March, and the official cease-fire came into effect on 6 April.

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