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Role of Kuwaiti Armed Forces in the Persian Gulf War

The Iraqi invasion in the early hours of August 2 was detected by a balloon-borne early warning radar, but the army had insufficient time to mount any organized resistance. Some contingents continued a small-unit defense, including those equipped with Chieftain tanks. About 7,000 soldiers escaped to Saudi Arabia; the remainder were killed or captured or participated in the internal resistance movement. Some Mirage and Skyhawk aircraft carried out attacks on the advancing Iraqi columns; when their air base in southern Kuwait was overrun, they flew to Saudi Arabian bases, as did some of the armed helicopters.

According to Norman Friedman, author of a study on the strategy and tactics of the Persian Gulf War, the Kuwaiti forces participating in Operation Desert Storm in February 1991 included the 35th Armored Brigade (renamed Martyr Brigade), the 15th Infantry Brigade, and the lightly equipped Liberation Brigade, which was armed with .50-caliber machine guns mounted on trucks. One source estimated that 7,000 Kuwaiti troops were involved. The Martyr Brigade was the first of the units of Joint Forces Command East in the drive paralleling the coast northward when the allied operation began on February 24, 1991. Along with Saudi, Qatari, and Bahraini forces, supported by United States marines on their left flank, their assignment of liberating the city of Kuwait incurred little Iraqi resistance.

Of twenty-four Kuwaiti aircraft participating in strikes against the Iraqi forces, one A-4 Skyhawk was lost to enemy fire. The two surviving Kuwaiti missile craft, carrying small marine contingents, were able to retake oil platforms and some of the gulf islands. Kuwait suffered only one combat death, according to an official British source.

Kuwait pledged contributions totaling more than US$16 billion to support the United States role in the Persian Gulf War. An additional US$6 billion was promised to Egypt and other member countries of the coalition to help offset the economic effects of the war.

Data as of January 1993