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: 1 August 1990 - 6 April 1991

Mission Mandate: To enforce the UN Security resolutions on Iraq and remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 660, 2 Aug 1990
United Nations Security Council Resolution 661, 6 Aug 1990 
United Nations Security Council Resolution 665, 25 Aug 1990 
United Nations Security Council Resolution 678, 29 Nov 1990

Mission/Operation Notes: Asserting that Kuwait was properly an integral part of Iraq – its 19th province – 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 passed 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. The army had over 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 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 been used intentionally 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 1991, an 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 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 Scud missiles against Israel in 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.

Canadian Forces (CF) Information (SCIMITAR)


Date: 15 September 1990 - 6 November 1990

CF Mission/Operation Notes: While the Canadian warships were on their way to the Persian Gulf, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney announced on 14 September 1990 that Canada would also contribute CF-18s to provide air cover for the Canadian warships. The aircraft would provide Combat Air Patrols (CAP) for the Canadian ships and provide an interception capability in case of Iraqi Air Force flights outside Iraqi airspace. 

The CF-18s came from 409 Squadron at CFB Baden, Germany, augmented by aircraft and personnel from 421 and 439 Squadrons and supported by 1 Air Maintenance Squadron. In preparation for the move, 22 Hercules and Boeing flights were made between 20 and 24 September to transport required supplies from Canada to Baden. The deployment, given the name Operation SCIMITAR, started on 4 October with the first Hercules flights to Doha, Qatar. The first six CF-18s left Baden on 7 October, arriving in Doha on the 8th. Six and then four more aircraft arrived in Doha on 11 and 12 October. The Canadian facilities at Doha were named “Canada Dry” at the suggestion of a Qatari official who had lived in Canada. 

This deployment used two thirds of the available crews of 436 Squadron flying the CC-130 Hercules, as well as crews from 435 Squadron also flying the Hercules and 437 Squadron flying the Boeing 707. A total of 101 flights were made between 4 and 15 October – 91 by Hercules and 10 by the Boeings. Over 1500 tons of freight, 135 tons of baggage and 1,400 personnel were ferried to Doha. Not only did this include the personnel required to service and support the CF-18s, but also members of the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment for security. 

Op SCIMITAR, which had started with the authorizing message on 15 September, ended on 6 November when Commodore Summers assumed command of all Canadian forces in the Gulf. The CF-18s then became part of Operation FRICTION.


Description: A K25 Loader pulls away from a CF Boeing. Part of the airlift of supplies to Qatar for Op Scimitar.

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