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Biography

Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.

In November 1988, Schwarzkopf was named commander of United States Central Command (CENTCOM), succeeding General George B. Crist. Schwarzkopf was selected over a more popular choice, Vice Admiral Henry C. Mustin, because commanders considered him an accomplished strategic thinker who had experience both in combat and with diplomacy, and who had great knowledge of the Middle East from his childhood experiences there. He assumed command of CENTCOM, with his headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, and was promoted to general. At the time of this appointment, CENTCOM had overall responsibility for U.S. military operations in 19 countries, and had 200,000 servicemen on call should a crisis arise. Schwarzkopf immediately took to changing the focus of the command, which to that point had focused on the "Zagros Doctrine", a hypothetical ground invasion by the Soviet Union through the Zagros Mountains which the U.S. would counter in Iran. Schwarzkopf was more concerned with the effects of the Iran-Iraq War on the stability of the region than of an external threat posed by the Soviet Union. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in March 1989, Schwarzkopf maintained that the Soviet Union was a threat to the region, but when giving an overview of the countries in the region, noted that Iraq posed a threat to its weaker neighbors. He implored that the U.S. "seek to assert a moderating influence in Iraq." With regional turmoil growing, Schwarzkopf became concerned about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, focusing the attention of his command to prepare to respond to what he thought was a "more realistic scenario." That year, his command began planning to counter an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, seeing it as a likely conflict which would threaten the interests of the United States. In early 1990 he testified again before the Senate Armed Services Committee in threat-assessment hearings that the Cold War was ending and it was less likely the Soviet Union would exert military force in the region. Though he declined to identify Iraq specifically as a threat, he noted a regional conflict was the most likely event to destabilize the region, and noted Iraq's ceasefire with Iran meant it was continuing to grow and modernize its military. In early 1990, he drafted a war plan, Operations Plan 1002-90, titled "Defense of the Arabian Peninsula," which envisioned an Iraqi invasion of Saudi Arabia through Kuwait. During CENTCOM military exercises in July 1990 termed Internal Look '90, Schwarzkopf wrote up a scenario that tested how the command would respond to a regional dictator invading a neighboring country and threatening oil fields there, a scenario which closely mirrored the rising tension between Iraq and Kuwait. One week after the end of these exercises, Iraq invaded Kuwait on 2 August 1990.