WASHINGTON — The head of the organization trying to get a memorial built to honor those who fought in the 1991 Gulf War said that conflict was the perfect display of “confidence and competence” in how a military operation should go.
Scott Stump, president and CEO of the National Desert Storm War Memorial organization, said the 1991 war “offers a template on how to get it done” and it should be not relegated to a footnote in history.
The 1991 war is “a significant turning point in our country’s history,” Stump said Monday in remarks to The Heritage Foundation. He said that the military showed how to “get in, get it done, and get out,” and that the war help the nation find renewed respect for the military.
The 1991 war had the U.S. and a coalition of 34 nations operating under a U.N. mandate to push Iraqi troops out of Kuwait. Iraqi forces occupied that nation in 1990.
“The phrase ‘thank you for your service’ did not exist before Desert Storm,” Stump said. He said the victory also returned a focus on veterans of the Vietnam war and made the nation realize the “tragic mistake on how we treated our Vietnam veterans.”
Stump said he still hears from people who overlook the war for the odd reasons that comparatively few were killed and that the battle was of short duration. He said such comments baffle him.
“ ‘It was over with so quick,’ they say,” Stump said. “That’s a bad thing?”
Stump noted that the left-hook maneuver used to sweep around and behind Iraqi troops in Kuwait, which trapped those forces, was revolutionary at the time. Almost everyone, especially the Iraqis occupying Kuwait, thought the U.S. would strike head-on via an amphibious assault.
“They were not looking for it,” he said.
Also from a military perspective, the 1991 war featured the largest tank battle since World War II and the last major tank battle in the 20th century, Stump said.
Stump said designers of the memorial for the 1991 war hope to incorporate the left-hook maneuver in some phase of the setting.
There is no design yet for the memorial, which is estimated to cost $34 million, Stump said.
The location for the planned memorial was approved on June 2. It is to be located at Constitution Avenue and 23rd Street in the capital, almost adjacent to the Lincoln and Vietnam War memorials.
Congress approved the concept and construction of the memorial in 2014. Supporters hope to have the memorial dedicated in 2021, the 30-year anniversary of the war.
Roughly 650,000 service members served — and 383 died — in operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.