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.