From his youth Norman Schwarzkopf told himself he would be an Army Officer, somewhere along the way he also decided to be a great one. He was born August 22, 1934 to a West Point Officer, Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf, in Trenton, New Jersey. His Father was stationed in Tehran, Iran after his service in both World Wars
which caused Norman Jr. and the rest of his family join his father in Iran. Norman Jr. spent most of his youth in Iran, even going to grade school there. Later in life he would say that this opportunity paid off in his understanding of life and people in the Middle East, where his career had is climax. He also spent time in parts of Europe because of his father's career which allowed him to become fluent in French, German and Farsi.
It is in the Middle East that his name became a household name, even though before this, long before this, his name deserved to be a household name. He served as a battalion commander
on his second tour in Vietnam where he was awarded three Silver Star medals. This is where his famous mine field bravery occurred. When hearing of some of his men being trapped in a North Vietnese minefield, then Colonel Schwarzkopf rushed to the scene in his helicopter and got on the ground to help his men. While holding on man down who had been wounded, he himself was wounded. After another mine went off, killing more of his men, he then led his men out of the field and into safety. This is where Schwarzkopf truly started to shine, but more importantly, this is where his reputation as a great leader
started among his men and spread to the entire Army.
After about twenty years of service including a lot of public relations works, especially after Vietnam, and being the Deputy Commander of Joint Task Force in Grenada, Schwarzkopf then would become an essential part of the U.S. led mission in Iraq in the Gulf War. He was promoted to four star general in 1988 and appointed commander in chief of the Army Central Command, which controlled military operations in the Horn of Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Part of taking command of this position was to make a plan for a hypothetical invasion by Iraq into Kuwait and how to secure the area's vast petroleum business, including refineries, drilling fields and transportation centers.
On August 2, 1990 Iraq did just what Schwarzkopf had planned for and his battle plan went from hypothetical to practical. Schwarzkopf led American forces in what started as Operation Desert Shield and proceeded into Operation Desert Storm. Desert Storm was a huge advance in tactical thought as the ground movements played a secondary role to the air mission, which was in reverse of many past operations. In addition to the large bombing missions by air, one of the biggest advantages of the tactics used was the fact the American troops came behind Iraqi forces in Kuwait. This being true, The U.S. advantageously had the Iraqi troops mostly surrounded when means even went the Iraqis went to retreat back to Iraq to regroup, there was either American ground forces there waiting on them or there would shortly be an American bomber there to destroy them and their equipment. He also used bombing missions to cut off supply lines from the Iraqi forces inside of Kuwait. This is just one of his tactics still being used today.
Before the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom American commanders were attempting to surround Iraqi forces, however due to diplomatic relations with Turkey, we were cut off from a northern front to invade from. However the tactics were still very similar. We again first used bombing as a scare tactic and a negotiating tactic, however was again not respected by the Iraqi government which in result led to a ground invasion. In both operations, from my research, the ground invasion was going to be used undoubtedly; however its size would be determined on the success of air bombing missions.
Schwarzkopf can be and is credited with most of this and his tactics are something we still learn from. His tactics are taught as West Point where he was a long time professor. He was one first, if not the first, commanding General in a combat situation to hold personal interviews and multiple press conferences. This is no surprise considering he was personally affected when returning from Vietnam and beginning public relation operations and finding enormous dissent among the American people towards not only the war but the actual soldier. His work then was very popular in the military and among the public, this leading to his popularity during the Gulf War.
His press conferences were many times not only about tactics but about soldier moral, soldier life, and included soldiers, this putting a face on the American soldier and at best, the war. He did just that, put a face on the war from the American side, which is among his best tactics used. Although tactics on the ground is what win wars abroad, Schwarzkopf understood that you must also win the war at home, which he felt was not done in Vietnam. However it is obvious that Schwarzkopf left a mark on this tactic and made it something to continue, which is seen by today's commanders in Iraq. While not being as vocal or in the media as Schwarzkopf was, but today's commanders still are in affect putting pieces in place that will still put a face on the war.
His life and career may not have affected the tactics or operations of the military as did past commanding generals, but considering the growth of the military and its present day size, the affect that he still had is relatively enormous. His tactics improved modern operations and his hypothetical battle plan protecting Kuwaiti oil was still in place until Operation Iraqi Freedom started. The things he improved are still visible today. One of the most important is regaining public support in the military, which he knew was lost after Vietnam. His courage from the mine field in Vietnam to his popular convoys through the battlefields in Kuwait is still remembered by soldiers and officers and still taught at his alma-matter, West Point. He gave his men courage by leading form the front, leading by example, and setting the bar high, in both combat and garrison operations. His leadership traits are numerous. His vocal command presence is seen instantly when watching him speak whether to public in a press conference or when watching clips of him addressing his soldiers. His courage was undoubted and his bravery was not only shown when tested, but passed on to his subordinates. Even through retirement he still motivates and supports operations as he speaks today as a public speaker and is used a military analyst.
"The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it."