Retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf dies

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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  ASSOCIATED PRESS
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Schwarzkopf

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 then-President George H.W. Bush that succeeded in driving the Iraqis out.

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.

After Saddam invaded Kuwait in August 1990, Schwarzkopf played a key diplomatic role by helping to persuade Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd to allow U.S. and other foreign troops to deploy on Saudi territory as a staging area for the war to come.

On Jan. 17, 1991, a five-month buildup called Desert Shield became Operation Desert Storm as allied aircraft attacked Iraqi bases and Baghdad government facilities. The six-week aerial campaign climaxed with a massive ground offensive on Feb. 24-28, routing the Iraqis from Kuwait in 100 hours before U.S. officials called a halt.

Schwarzkopf said afterward he agreed with Bush’s decision to stop the war rather than drive to Baghdad to capture Saddam, as his mission had been only to oust the Iraqis from Kuwait.

But in a desert tent meeting with vanquished Iraqi generals, he allowed a key concession on Iraq’s use of helicopters, which later backfired by enabling Saddam to crack down more easily on rebellious Shiites and Kurds.

While he later avoided the public second-guessing by academics and think tank experts over the ambiguous outcome of Gulf War I and its impact on Gulf War II, he told the Washington Post in 2003, “You can’t help but... with 20/20 hindsight, go back and say, ‘Look, had we done something different, we probably wouldn’t be facing what we are facing today.’”

After retiring from the Army in 1992, Schwarzkopf wrote a best-selling autobiography, “It Doesn’t Take A Hero.” Of his Gulf war role, he said, “I like to say I’m not a hero. I was lucky enough to lead a very successful war.” He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and honored with decorations from France, Britain, Belgium, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain.

Schwarzkopf was a national spokesman for prostate cancer awareness and for Recovery of the Grizzly Bear, served on the Nature Conservancy board of governors and was active in various charities for chronically ill children.

“I may have made my reputation as a general in the Army and I’m very proud of that,” he once told the AP. “But I’ve always felt that I was more than one-dimensional. I’d like to think I’m a caring human being. ... It’s nice to feel that you have a purpose.”

Schwarzkopf and his wife, Brenda, had three children: Cynthia, Jessica and Christian.

Comments (14) Add comment
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Riverman1
81960
Points
Riverman1 12/27/12 - 09:52 pm
6
0
Taps

The General presented me with something once. I still have the signed document on the wall in my office although his signature has faded with the years. He also came to my unit's OPD one Friday afternoon, gave us a little talk and drank a few beers with us. I used to run a quiet path at Ft. Stewart and would often meet him jogging in a blue plastic suit trying to get his weight down...as I was, too. When he was the commander at Ft. Stewart he was very protective of his soldiers and concerned about their well being.

Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.
Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near
Falls the night.

Jake
32264
Points
Jake 12/27/12 - 09:37 pm
2
0
@River

Pretty cool.

itsanotherday1
41667
Points
itsanotherday1 12/28/12 - 12:41 am
6
0
A huge loss for America. Men

A huge loss for America. Men like him are few and far between these days.
RIP General.

Dixieman
14169
Points
Dixieman 12/28/12 - 06:10 am
4
0
RIP

A great loss to America and the world. He did a fantastic job not only in Desert Shield/Storm but also throughout his entire military career. Thanks, General, and RIP.

Jane18
12332
Points
Jane18 12/28/12 - 06:41 am
3
0
A Good Man

The General was indeed a Man! Too bad we don't have more like him. The document you(Riverman) have from "stormin Norman" proves he knew there was "someone" bigger in this world, and to me me that makes him an even bigger and better man!

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 12/28/12 - 06:54 am
1
0
Proud to have met him

When I was working at Ft. Bragg 1988-94, the group I was working for (SOTF) provided the Protective Security for him in the sand lands. They frequently commented on how he was the real thing and not some media/paper hero.

He was very respected and liken to a modern General Patton with the same serious temper when it came to doing it his way, but without any of the self-serving ego issues of Patton.

To me his most memorable statement,
that we all laugh about, was during a televised war briefing one morning. He was showing video of a Electronically guided bomb with a nose camera heading towards a Bridge. There was a small pickup that literally just finished crossing the bridge, as the bomb hit the bridge just behind the driver. He said something to the effect. 'Now here is the Luckiest SOB on earth this morning... imagine him looking in his rear view mirror...just about now... BAMA.' The news media loved, and it even eventually became a YouTube clip.

As I was repeatedly told by former friends, his skills were deeply missed in Sand Land War II. Many are still reading his published materials classroom and tactics to this day.

May He Rest In Peace and his funeral be that of a hero.
Without a bunch of Politicians, he never met, trying to grab some lime light.

harley_52
22898
Points
harley_52 12/28/12 - 08:03 am
5
0
One Of The Last....

....really great Generals. A man who understood that when you fight a war, you fight to WIN, not to lose, or tie. A man who had achieved the moment in history when he could have (and wanted to) stormed into Bhagdad, defeated Sadam Hussein, and saved us all this misery, but was ordered to relent because we lacked the political guts to finish him off.

Today's Generals are mainly politically correct tools of the politically correct politicians who'd rather appear kinder and gentler than fight to win. We will all suffer for it in the end.

They don't make 'em like they used to.

Goodbye General Schwartzkopf.

Riverman1
81960
Points
Riverman1 12/28/12 - 10:00 am
1
0
Harley, you can appreciate

Harley, you can appreciate this. I was already at Ft. Stewart in the 24th Division when he arrived and took command. We had begun going to the National Training Center (NTC) a year or so before his arrival. When the brigade I was in first started going there it was a mess, but we had learned and were pretty proficient at that realistic month long exercise by the time he took over.

I really believe he learned much from the way we performed in the Mojave Desert exercises.We got really good at knocking out the OpFor. He was our commander when he was called to advise the Grenada Invasion Commander, who was a naval officer.

At the Grenada briefing in a room of many he began to explain "end runs" and other tactics we used at the NTC to the audience. The Admiral asked him to come to the front of the room and continue. The rest is history.

One other thing you can appreciate. He took care of the soldiers to the max. Some battalion commanders would work their troops late every night and on weekends to the point it was becoming a problem. He put out that the training schedule would be strictly followed and no extra hours worked unless approved by him. When some of the commanders didn't take him seriously, he began to go around to units on Saturday to see if they were working. He walked into my unit and told everyone to go home one Saturday morning.

My battalion commander was a very proficient one and we had scored higher at the NTC than any other unit, but he missed the point about taking care of the soldiers and their families. Many complaints were lodged against him by soldiers and their wives about his unreal schedule. Stormin Norman took up for the soldiers and gave the LTC a less than stellar OER. So he wasn't all blood and guts as many think.

harley_52
22898
Points
harley_52 12/28/12 - 10:19 am
1
0
Riverman...

Having made a couple of trips to Fort Irwin myself, I can appreciate the difficulty of consistently besting the OPFOR in their own back yard and the likely career success of any Battalion or Brigade Commander who could make that claim. I didn't know Schwartzkopf personally, but I know a number of guys who did and the all spoke very highly of him.

A good commander always takes care of his troops. Once the troops recognize they are part of a team and that the captain of the team is both proficient at his job and concerned for their welfare, the team can accomplish greater things. Shwartzkopf had that kind of reputation and what you say confirms it.

As for your Battalion Commander and his choices not to take the Division Commander seriously, all I can say is that I've seen the same kind of thing several times myself and it never ends well for the battalion commanders.

justthefacts
21235
Points
justthefacts 12/28/12 - 11:04 am
3
0
Jake, harley, Open Curtain and River

Thanks for your service as well.

harley_52
22898
Points
harley_52 12/28/12 - 11:38 am
3
0
JTF...

We all appreciate your kind comment.

Riverman1
81960
Points
Riverman1 12/28/12 - 11:57 am
4
0
JTF, thanks, but don't forget

JTF, thanks, but don't forget Dixieman.

justthefacts
21235
Points
justthefacts 12/28/12 - 12:47 pm
3
0
Dixieman

My bad, thanks to you as well.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 12/28/12 - 03:44 pm
1
0
justthefacts - Thanks but I did not serve as a Green Suiter

I was a IT Security Consultant/ Special Adviser on loan to DOD groups like SOTF, JSOC and others.

After 15 years of doing DOD work, I tore up my ticket and resigned Oct 7th, 1994. 3 days after 3 friends were senselessly killed in Mogadishu.

An Yes I am still bitter about it to this day.

Soldiers are warriors, not police and Gen. Schwarzkopf knew this
and run his troops accordingly.

Another great person, for whom I will always have a lot of respect for, has past.

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