Forgetting past leads to repeating it

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- On Jan. 17, 1991, Operation Desert Storm was initiated by the U.S. to liberate Kuwait from the forces of Saddam Hussein, the Iraq dictator.

Leading up to this event, Hussein had invaded the country of Kuwait Aug. 2, 1990. He targeted Kuwait due to its extensive supply of oil and his belief that Kuwait was conspiring with other oil-producing countries to purposefully keep global oil prices low.

Worried about the belligerent actions of Iraq, Arabic powers sought counsel with the United Nations Security Council. The UNSC decreed that Hussein must remove his forces. His refusal resulted in a military measure that came to be known as the Gulf War.

The stage was set for the building of The United Nations Coalition headed by then President George H.W. Bush. This pre-emptive gathering of forces in Saudi Arabia is known as Operation Desert Shield. The buildup was put in place to prevent Iraq from invading Saudi Arabia at the request of King Fahd, dictator of Saudi Arabia. With Iraq's refusal to leave Kuwait by the deadline set by the UN, the Gulf War began with an extensive aerial bombing campaign Jan. 17, 1991.

The United Nations Coalition flew more than 100,000 sorties and dropped 88,500 tons of bombs. The initial barrage also consisted of over 100 Tomahawk missiles, which took out heavily defended targets in the vicinity of Baghdad and made a critical contribution to eliminating Iraqi air defenses, and command and control capabilities. The effectiveness of the Coalition bombardment surmounted even the most optimistic expectations of the UNSC.

After five weeks of bombing, the Iraqi forces infrastructure was in absolute disarray. On Feb. 24 of that year, when Saddam Hussein refused President Bush's ultimatum to come to terms with the UN, the coalition ground forces launched their attack to route the Iraqi forces, liberate Kuwait and advance into Iraq. Within 100 hours, the victory was decisive. The Iraqis were retreating, but not before pillaging and scuttling Kuwait's resources. Iraq was eventually forced to come to a ceasefire agreement.

It is important to remember the sacrifices others have made in the defense of freedom. The famous words of George Santayana: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

I just want to offer a stark reminder of what it means to be sovereign and have the responsibility to help the world from tyrant forces.