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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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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