Retired General Norman Schwarzkopf, who led troops in the 1991 Gulf War, has died aged 78, US media report.
General Norman Schwarzkopf – known as Stormin’ Norman – was commander of coalition forces in the first Gulf War in 1990-91.
The US-led coalition drove Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait.
Former President George H. W. Bush described General Norman Schwarzkopf as “one of the great military leaders of his generation”.
General Norman Schwarzkopf spent his retirement in Tampa, Florida, where he had served in his last military assignment as commander-in-chief of US Central Command.
His military success made him one of America’s most famous modern generals although some criticized him for negotiating ceasefire terms which allowed Saddam Hussein to remain in power.
President George H.W. Bush, who was in office during the first Gulf War, said he “mourned the loss” of General Norman Schwarzkopf, “one of the great military leaders of his generation”.
George H.W. Bush, who remains in intensive care at the Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, issued a statement, saying: “A distinguished member of that Long Gray Line hailing from West Point, General Schwarzkopf, to me, epitomized the <<duty, service, country>> creed that has defended our freedom and seen this great nation through our most trying international crises.
“More than that, he was a good and decent man – and a dear friend. Barbara and I send our condolences to his wife Brenda and his wonderful family.”
US Republican Senator John McCain tweeted that General Norman Schwarzkopf was “one of the great American heroes”.
“We thank him for his service,” he said.
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta also paid tribute to the general, saying his 35 years of service had “left an indelible imprint on the United States military and on the country”.
“His bravery during two tours in Vietnam earned him three silver stars, and set him on the path lead our troops into battle in Grenada, and then to take charge of the overall allied effort in the first Gulf War as Commander of United States Central Command,” he said.
“General Schwarzkopf’s skilled leadership of that campaign liberated the Kuwaiti people and produced a decisive victory for the allied coalition. In the aftermath of that war, General Schwarzkopf was justly recognized as a brilliant strategist and inspiring leader. Today, we recall that enduring legacy and remember him as one of the great military giants of the 20th Century.”
During Operation Desert Storm, General Norman Schwarzkopf famously used one of his regular news conferences to taunt his opponent.
“As far as Saddam Hussein being a great military strategist, he is neither a strategist, nor is schooled in the operational art, nor is he a tactician, nor is he a general, nor is he a soldier: other than that, he’s a great military man – I want you to know that,” he said.
General Norman Schwarzkopf’s sometimes fiery temper meant that he clashed with subordinates and superiors alike including the then Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell.
Despite this and his bluff appearance, he was smarter and more diplomatic than many critics gave him credit for, our correspondent adds.
After the first Gulf War, General Norman Schwarzkopf became a national celebrity, but always rejected suggestions that he run for office himself.
General Norman Schwarzkopf: Career highlights
- Born on 22 August 1934 in Trenton, New Jersey
- Aged 12, he moves to Iran where his father, a high-ranking army officer, trained the police and was an adviser to the Shah
- Studies in Switzerland and Germany, attends US Military Academy at West Point, New York. Gains masters degree in guided-missile engineering from the University of Southern California
- Highly decorated for his services in the Vietnam and Grenada wars
- Named commander-in-chief of the US Central Command in 1988
- Best known for leading allied forces as part of Operation Desert Storm in the Gulf War in 1991
- Often referred to as “Stormin Norman”, he used to taunt Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein