International Information

International Operation Name: Operation DESERT THUNDER I and II

International Mission Name: Operation DESERT THUNDER I and II

Mandating Organization: United Nations

Region Name: Middle East

Location: Iraq

Mission Date: 24 January 1998 - 15 December 1998

Mission Mandate: To support the build-up of coalition forces in the Persian Gulf in response to Iraqi non-compliance with UN inspection requirements. To further ensure Iraqi compliance with Security Council Resolutions 687, 1115, 1137, 1154, and 1194 that demanded unimpeded access of United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) personnel to all sites in Iraq.

Mission/Operation Notes: After the Gulf War ended in 1991 and in addition to Resolution 661 (6 August 1990) which placed economic sanctions on Iraq, the United Nations passed Resolution 687 (3 April 1991) creating the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM). UNSCOM’s role was to ensure the destruction of all Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Iraq’s failure to cooperate fully resulted in Resolution 1115 (21 June 1997), demanded Iraqi cooperation. After a brief period of compliance, Iraq refused which allow American inspectors to participate in UNSCOM and threatened the safety of aircraft conducting reconnaissance mission on behalf of UNSCOM. Resolution 1137 (12 November 1997) was then adopted repeating the demand for cooperation and indicating that further measures would be taken as required to implement the resolution.

The United States, Great Britain, Canada and other states considered the Iraqi conduct with grave concern. In a matter of weeks, troops from 11 countries, including Canada, deployed to Kuwait in a show of force. The coalition action was given the name Operation DESERT THUNDER and started on 24 January 1998. While an agreement was reached between Iraq and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 23 February 1998, the coalition continued to build up its forces in a display of resolve and to enforce the agreement of 23 February. Resolution 1154 (2 March 1998) was further adopted to remind Iraq of their obligations under the relevant resolutions.

Most of the forces deployed under Operation DESERT THUNDER started returning to their home nations in May 1998, after Iraq had demonstrated compliance with the UN resolutions and with the 23 February agreement. The compliance was short-lived, however, lending the Security Council to pass Resolution 1194 in September. The United States began to build up its forces again. Because not all forces had departed after the apparent end of the first concentration of troops, this build-up continued to be known as Operation DESERT THUNDER, although it is sometimes referred to as DESERT THUNDER II.

Starting on 11 November 1998, additional air, ground and naval forces began to arrive in the Persian Gulf, mainly in Kuwait. A strike plan came within 8 minutes of being executed in November - Operation DESERT VIPER. However, on 16 December, American and British aircraft struck at over 100 Iraqi military targets in three nights, under the operation name DESERT FOX. This terminated Operation Desert Thunder.

Canadian Forces (CF) Information (DESERT THUNDER I and II)

CF Mission/Operation Notes: A further Canadian contribution, but not under the umbrella of Operation DETERMINATION, came in the form of the Canadian personnel who formed part of the 552nd Air Control Wing, flying Boeing E3-A AWACS from Tinker Air Force Base. AWACS aircraft with Canadian personnel provided command and control support for the coalition forces deployed under Operation Desert Thunder. At the same time, these AWACS aircraft were also flying from Saudi Arabia in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH (see separate entry).

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