What I Learned From Desert Storm
[Re. “What We Learned From the Highway of Death, by Stephan Wilkinson, January:] Wilkinson is quick to fault the Allies for not “finishing the job” in Kuwait, but it was impossible to do with the assembled coalition and impractical to do based on the international situation. I know. I was there.
The coalition was a U.N.-enabled force that included Syria and Egypt. There was no way once Kuwait was freed they would continue on to Baghdad. The U.N. mandate was to free Kuwait. Even the commander of the 101st Airborne Division wanted to take advantage of his position to enact a “rendezvous with destiny” and move on Baghdad. We were dressed and had all our stuff, so why leave Saddam Hussein in power? The reason was best illustrated by an elderly Kuwaiti man who told me that he hated Saddam, and that if he were present, the man would shoot him. But Saddam stood between him and Iran. The Kuwaitis figured Saddam had been spanked and would stay on his side of the line, and as a Sunni brother they feared him less than the wannabe nuclear Shiite wackos in Iran.
Wilkinson mentions that the war was fought over the United States’ “own oil interests.” Well, yeah. This was pre-fracking, cars do not run on rubber bands, and there are no solar-powered airliners.
The lesson of Desert Storm is never again will an army in the open challenge the United States. Do not start wars with people who have thermal night imaging and depleted uranium rounds. We had this stuff to fight the Soviet Union and used it to fight Iraq. It’s like going to play against the Oakland Raiders but Crosstown High shows up.
The only exception will be if the enemy senses we have no will to fight. The thought of being “degraded” doesn’t put fear into an enemy like Warthogs and Apaches running up and down your lines with miniguns.
Major Mark P. Brewer U.S. Army (Ret.)
Empire vs. Tribe
“Empire vs. Tribe” [by O’Brien Browne, January] was very interesting, and I enjoyed reading it. There is one part with which I would take issue. It is the statement at the end: “Yet the grandeur that was Rome survives only in crumbling marble ruins and a few magnificent texts.” Hardly anything in the world could be further from the truth. Here are just a few examples where that arguably evil empire has influenced our lives and the world:
- The Latin alphabet. Military History is written using this.
- The calendar. Even the names of most months come from Roman gods or emperors.
- Latin languages like French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Italian. It seems many modern-day French, Spaniards and Portuguese are descendants of Celts. Yet their languages are not derived from those of their ancestors but from that of their conquerors.
- Infrastructure. Many roads and canals built by the Romans are still in use.
- Cities. Europe’s biggest cities, London and Paris, were founded by the Romans.
- Roman law. The basis of law of all European countries that do not use common law is derived from Roman law.
- The cross of Christianity. It was originally a device used by the Romans to kill people in a very cruel and inhumane manner. (The concept of human rights was not a Roman invention.)
The Hague, Netherlands
Cold War Map
[Re. “The War That Wasn’t,” by Robert M. Citino, January:] Did V Corps and VII Corps get transposed on the map on P. 39?
My experience (late 1980s, early ’90s) in Germany was that V Corps was headquartered in Frankfurt (the IG Farben Building), and VII Corps was headquartered near the Stuttgart Airport (almost next door to the Mercedes HQ), and many/ most of the VII Corps units were in Bavaria. V Corps was in Hessen and other nearby states around Frankfurt. VII Corps was basically disbanded upon returning from Desert Storm in 1991. V Corps I believe is now based around Wiesbaden.
Editor responds: You’re correct about the Cold War deployments/headquarters of V Corps and VII Corps, and we apologize for transposing them on our map. VII Corps was inactivated in 1992, within months of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. V Corps was later based in Wiesbaden, but it, too, has since been inactivated, in June 2013.
Originally published in the March 2015 issue of Military History. To subscribe, click here.