Schwarzkopf, the husky and sometimes exceedingly frank military hero of the Gulf War, effectively commanded U.S.-led forces in the Gulf. The military success of Desert Storm made Schwarzkopf an American hero, despite his initial reluctance to use force against Iraq. With his witty briefings to the press and clear sense of command, Schwarzkopf made the war seem almost surgical and "clean." Smart bombs and light American casualties were the mantra. The general emerged from the war as the embodiment of what was good about the United States, the walking, talking reminder that the U.S. armed forces were a competent and proud organization, and that Vietnam may have just been an aberration in history.
Schwarzkopf was born on August 22, 1934, in the small town of Pennington, New Jersey. He came from a military family and entered the United States Military Academy in 1952. Like Powell, Schwarzkopf served in Vietnam, and this proved to be a defining experience in his career. In Vietnam, he advised the South Vietnamese paratroopers in his first tour of duty in 1965. (Reynolds, 1995) By his second tour in 1969, the war had gone awry, and Schwarzkopf, who commanded a battalion and at one point led a patrol from the middle of a minefield, narrowly escaping death, began to doubt the American leadership and became frustrated with the war effort. Perhaps as the quintessential example of the confusion and poor planning in Vietnam which so angered him, Schwarzkopf himself was bombed by U.S. Air Force B-52s in an interservice fiasco.
Besides his military studies, Norman played on the football team, wrestled, sang and conducted the chapel choir. He graduated from West Point in 1956 with a Bachelor's of Science in mechanical engineering and was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant.
His first assignment was as a platoon leader and executive officer 2nd Airborne Battle Group at Fort Benning Georgia. Here he received advanced infantry and airborne training. Next came stints with the 101st Airborne in Kentucky and the 6th Infantry in West Germany. He was aide-de-camp to the Berlin Command in 1960 and 1961, a crucial time in the history of that divided city. Norman Schwarzkopf returned to the United States and earned a Master's degree in Mechanical ?ngineering at the University of Southern California. His special field of study was guided missile engineering.
By 1965 he was back at West Point, teaching engineering. More and more of his former classmates were heading to Vietnam as advisors to the South Vietnamese army and, in 1965, Norman Schwarzkopf applied to join them. (Reynolds, 1995) As task Force Advisor to a South Vietnamese Airborne Division, Schwarzkopf was promoted from Captain to Major. When his tour of duty in Vietnam was over, he returned to his teaching post at West Point.
Almost immediately after receiving this first star, General Schwarzkopf found himself leading troops into battle. A coup had taken place on the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada. With Cuban assistance, the Grenadian revolutionaries were building an airfield which U.S. intelligence suspected would be used to supply insurgents in Central America. It was also feared that Americans studying on the island might be taken hostage. Since an amphibious landing was called for, the entire operation was placed under the command of an admiral, but General Schwarzkopf was placed in command of U.S. ground forces. He quickly won the confidence of his superior and was named Deputy Commander of the Joint Task Force. While the Grenada operation proved more difficult then its planners had anticipated, the coup was quickly thwarted. Order was restored, elections scheduled, and the American students returned home unharmed. ...