On August 2, 1990, Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army invaded Kuwait, igniting a crisis that led to an intervention by a massive U.S.-led coalition.

At the time, Iraq possessed one of the world’s largest armies, with about one million troops. To defeat it, the U.S. knocked on every diplomatic door in the region and elsewhere, successfully gathering 750,000 troops for Operation Desert Storm, which began on January 17, 1991.

As the coalition against him swelled, Hussein sought to divide the Babel-style alliance of nearly 40 countries, including several Arab nations and Israel, though Israel didn’t actively participate. By directly attacking Israel, the Iraqi leader hoped to provoke an Israeli response that would break the fragile coalition.

Hussein chose his Scud missile batteries as the instrument of his strategy. The Soviet-made tactical ballistic-missile system came in both fixed and mobile launchers, both of which were quite deadly. One Scud struck a U.S. base in Saudi Arabia, killing 28 soldiers.

To stop the Scud threat, the Pentagon turned to its best: Delta Force, along with its British counterpart, the Special Air Service (SAS).

Skeptical Leadership

Delta Force special operators Desert Storm Iraq
Delta operators from A Squadron. (Courtesy photo)

Following the invasion of Kuwait, the U.S.’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) proposed several operations to the Pentagon, ranging from the rescue of American diplomats and citizens trapped in Kuwait City to direct-action operations in Iraq.

“Once we got word about the invasion, there were lots of ideas going around on how the Unit could respond,” a former Delta operator told Insider.

But one of the biggest hurdles for Delta Force and other U.S. special operations units during Desert Storm was the leadership of conventional military forces.