the gulf war
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oral history: the commanders

Examining the Gulf War through the eyes and in the words of those who played major roles

General Norman Schwarzkopf

photo of General Norman SchwarzkopfGeneral Norman Schwarzkopf (Commander-in-Chief, Central Command (CENTCOM))

Q: The first night of the war. Can you recall your entry into the war room that night?
Schwarzkopf: In the days preceding, we tried to keep it a very very deep secret, exactly when these attacks would be launched...
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General Calvin Waller

photo of General Calvin WallerGeneral Calvin Waller (Deputy Commander, CENTCOM)

Q: Buster Glosson says that if he could have carried on hitting the strategic targets, Saddam would have waved the white flag...
Waller: Anyone who says if they had been allowed just a few more days of strategic bombing that there wouldn't have been a need for a ground attack, I think is absolutely smoking something...
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General Calvin Waller

photo of General Charles HornerGeneral Charles Horner (Commander, US Ninth Air Force)

Q: How did you come to decide to start to hit the biological warfare targets?
Horner: One of the thorniest problems in targeting was biological warfare storage areas - we knew they were storing anthrax and botulism...
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General Walt Boomer

photo of General Walt BoomerGeneral Walt Boomer (Marine Air-Ground Commander)

Q: What did the battle at Khafji tell you about the Iraqis?
Boomer: As I began to piece it together after, it told me three things-- One, you need to be able to move, shoot, communicate at the same time...
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General Frederick Franks

photo of General Frederick FranksGeneral Frederick Franks (Commander, VII Corps)

Q: How big a force was this that you were commanding, how destructive?
Franks: You can go back to the battle in the Ardennes and General Patton's Third Army...
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General Buster Glosson

photo of General Buster GlossonGeneral Buster Glosson (Chief, CENTCOM Air Offensive Campaign)

Q: What was the closest that Saddam Hussein ever came to encountering an Air Force bomb?
Glosson: I can't be sure what the answer to that is. Only Saddam Hussein can probably answer that for you...
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General Sir Peter de la Billiere

photo of General Sir Peter de la BilliereGeneral Sir Peter de la Billiere (Senior British Commander)

Q: What do you say to those people who say 'they didn't finish the job---five years later, Saddam Hussein is still there'?
de la Billiere: Well, I don't think we would have got him. We could have gone up to Baghdad and I could have had my tanks in Baghdad or Rupert Smith's tanks, in Baghdad within 24 hours...
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