Defense Saudi Arabia streamer

We honor the service of our Desert Shield Veterans from the Regular Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve, who demonstrated America's resolve to defend freedom and deter aggression throughout the world on short notice. The valuable lesson of a quick and decisive response by U.S. forces to defend Saudi Arabia 30 years ago is relevant today with the Army's Ready to Fight Tonight policy.

"This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait." - President George H.W. Bush responding to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, 5 August 1990


On 2 August 1990, Iraq invaded its neighbor Kuwait with four elite Republican Guard heavy divisions and the equivalent of a fifth composed of special operations commandos. President George H. W. Bush quickly announced that the United States considered Iraq's aggression unacceptable.

On 7 August, the president backed up his words with a military response named Operation Desert Shield, and organized a coalition of 35 nations to defend Saudi Arabia and ultimately liberate Kuwait. The XVIII Airborne Corps, with its elite 82d Airborne Division, began to move to Saudi Arabia the next day, beginning a buildup of combat power in the region reaching at its peak about 600,000 U.S. personnel.

In rapid succession, the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized), the 197th Infantry Brigade, and the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) moved to the Gulf. The U.S. Army Reserve began its largest mobilization since the Korean War. By early November, with the addition of the 1st Cavalry Division (Armored), the 2d Armored Division's 1st (or Tiger) Brigade, and the 3d ACR (armored cavalry regiment), a lethal force of over 100,000 soldiers was assembled for the defense of Saudi Arabia.

On 8 November 1990, President Bush announced that the U.S. VII Corps would move to the Gulf from its bases in Europe and the United States. This heavy corps, consisting of the 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized), the 1st and 3d Armored Divisions, and the 2d ACR, would give the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) commander, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., the armored fist he needed to take the offensive.

Operation Desert Shield transitioned to Operation Desert Storm on 17 January 1991 with the start of the air war.

Paintings from the Army Art Collection

Artifacts from the U.S. Army Airborne and Special Operations Museum