H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the retired general credited with leading U.S.-allied forces to a victory in the first Gulf War, died today at age 78.
The man who Defense Secretary Leon Panetta today called "one of the great military giants of the 20th century" died in Tampa, Fla., where he lived in retirement, the Associated Press reported.
"The men and women of the Department of Defense join me in mourning the loss of General Norman Schwarzkopf, whose 35 years of service in uniform left an indelible imprint on the United States military and on the country," Panetta said in a statement. "My thoughts and prayers are with the Schwarzkopf family in this time of sadness and grief."
Schwarzkopf, called "Stormin' Norman" because of his reportedly explosive temper, led America to two military victories: a small one in Grenada in the 1980s and a big one as de facto commander of allied forces in the Gulf War in 1991.
"'Stormin' Norman' led the coalition forces to victory, ejecting the Iraqi Army from Kuwait and restoring the rightful government," read a statement by former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War. "His leadership not only inspired his troops, but also inspired the nation."
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Schwarzkopf's success during that fight, also known as Operation Desert Storm, came under President George H.W. Bush, who through his office today mourned "the loss of a true American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his generation."
"Gen. Norm 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," Bush said. "More than that, he was a good and decent man -- and a dear friend."
Bush's office released the statement though the former president, himself, was ill, hospitalized in Texas with a stubborn fever and on a liquids-only diet.
The current White House occupant, President Obama, also memorialized Schwarzkopf, declaring him "an American original" who "stood tall for the country and Army he loved."
The future four-star general was born Aug. 24, 1934, in Trenton, N.J.
Schwarzkopf's father, who shared his name, directed the investigation of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping as head of the New Jersey State Police, later becoming a brigadier general in the U.S. Army.
Schwarzkopf was raised as an army brat in Iran, Switzerland, Germany and Italy, following in his father's footsteps to West Point, earning an engineering degree and being commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1956.
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He earned three Silver Stars for bravery during two tours in Vietnam, gaining a reputation as an opinionated, plain-spoken commander with a sharp temper who would risk his own life for his soldiers.
"He had volunteered to go to Vietnam early just so he could get there before the war ended," said former Army Col. William McKinney, who knew Schwarzkopf from their days at West Point, according to ABC News Radio.
In 1983, as a newly-minted general, Schwarzkopf once again led troops into battle in President Reagan's invasion of Granada, a tiny Caribbean island where the White House saw American influence threatened by a Cuban-backed coup.
But he gained most of his fame in Iraq, where he used his 6-foot-3, 240-pound frame and fearsome temper to drive his forces to victory.
"He was known as a soldier's general," said retired Maj. Gen. Donald Shepperd, as he explained the "Stormin' Norman" nickname to ABC News Radio. "In other words, he really liked the troops and was soft on the troops. But boy, on his general officers, his officers, his NCO's, he was very, very tough and he had a real quick temper."
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Gruff and direct, Schwarzkopf said during the Gulf War that his goal was to win the war as quickly as possible and with a focused objective: getting Iraq out of Kuwait.
"If it had been our intention to take Iraq, if it had been our intention to destroy the country, if it had been our intention to overrun the country, we could have done it unopposed," he said at a military briefing in 1991.
In a 1991 "20/20" interview, he told ABC News' Barbara Walters that if he ever met Hussein, he would have told him, "Get outta town."
During the operation to force that result, he spoke French and German to coalition partners, showed awareness of Arab sensitivities and served as Powell's operative man on the ground.
Powell today recalled Schwarzkopf as "a great patriot and a great soldier," who "served his country with courage and distinction for over 35 years."
"He was a good friend of mine, a close buddy," Powell added. "I will miss him."
Schwarzkopf retired from the Army after Desert Storm in 1991, writing an autobiography, becoming an advocate for prostate cancer awareness, serving on the boards of various charities and lecturing.
"I may have made my reputation as a general in the Army and I'm very proud of that," he once told the AP. "But I've always felt that I was more than one-dimensional. I'd like to think I'm a caring human being. ... It's nice to feel that you have a purpose."
Schwarzkopf spent his retirement in Tampa, home base for his last military assignment as commander-in-chief of U.S. Central Command.
He and his wife, Brenda, had three children.
ABC News' Dana Hughes, Gina Sunseri and Polson Kanneth contributed to this report.
He also complained that field commanders were unable to get reconnaissance photographs of potential Iraqi military targets that were less than a day old. Having the most current photographs was important, he said, because pilots needed an exact rendering of the areas they planned to attack if their bombs were to be precisely aimed. And such scenes can rapidly change in battle, he said. Targets of Criticism Unclear
It was not clear whether the general's remarks were directed at the Central Intelligence Agency, which coordinated the wartime intelligence effort, or the Defense Intelligence Agency and the rest of the Pentagon's espionage apparatus, which provided most of the direct support to American forces in the Persian Gulf.
Some Administration officials have said that discontent over the quality of intelligence on Iraq may have played a role in President Bush's decision last month to accept the retirement of William H. Webster as Director of Central Intelligence.
Mr. Bush has proposed replacing Mr. Webster with Robert M. Gates, a career intelligence official who held senior posts at the C.I.A. before moving to the White House as deputy national security adviser in 1989.
During the 1980's, Mr. Gates made major changes in both the operations and personnel of the C.I.A.'s analytical division, and analysts working there today are largely a product of that overhaul.
A C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment on General Schwarzkopf's remarks, but noted that President Bush last month rejected assertions that American intelligence had not performed well during the war. Mr. Bush called the agencies' work outstanding and said he had "no complaints whatsoever."
And a spokesman for the Defense Intelligence Agency did not return a telephone call today seeking comment on the Schwarzkopf remarks.
The comments on intelligence were virtually the only cutting words in a day of flowery tributes and patriotic celebrity for the general, who was making final visits to the House and Senate military affairs committees before his scheduled retirement from the Army in August.
Throngs of tourists and Federal workers spilled out of Congressional hearing rooms and lined up down the hallways, waiting to get a glimpse of the general, chief of the Pentagon's Central Command, seated alone at a wooden table in a dress uniform spangled with ribbons.
In his testimony, General Schwarzkopf took pains to praise the overall efforts of intelligence agencies during the gulf conflict and the quality of the satellites, aircraft and eavesdropping equipment they used against Iraq. His complaint, he said, was not with the facts those systems produced, but with the way the information was later handled.
For example, the general appeared to confirm a report in February, discounted at the time by military and intelligence officials, that he sharply disagreed with Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency analysts about the amount of damage that allied air attacks had wrought on Iraq's army.
The report said the estimates of damage to Iraqi military targets made by General Schwarzkopf's aides were three to four times greater than the estimates of C.I.A. and D.I.A. experts in photographic analysis. The difference stemmed from the fact that the general's staff relied in part on reports from pilots, who tend to overstate damage, while Washington analysts discarded the pilots' reports.
It remains unclear which experts, if either, were correct. General Schwarzkopf, who today called the dispute a "major area of confusion," suggested that he felt his judgment should have prevailed.
Some unnamed Washington experts, he said, "felt that they were in a better position to judge battle damage assessment from a pure analysis of things like photography and that sort of thing alone, rather than allowing the theater commander -- who is the person that really, in the final analysis, has to make the ultimate assessment -- to apply good military judgment to what he's seen."
In other remarks, General Schwarzkopf said he favors at least a limited combat role for women in future wars, provided the individual military services can define those roles based on their own requirements, rather than on a concept of women's rights.
He also rejected reports that he disagreed with the decision of Mr. Bush and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin L. Powell, to end the ground war in Iraq after a few days.
He said he told General Powell in a telephone conversation the day before the war was halted that he believed that the military objectives of the allied coalition had been achieved, but that "my plans are to continue the attack for probably one more day."
When General Powell later instructed him to end the conflict in 12 hours, he said, he agreed, saying, "That's as good a time as any other."Continue reading the main story