Kuwaiti Troops Recall Invasion, Friendships Forged

AL-SUBIYA, Kuwait, Feb. 26, 2011 — Kuwaiti Capt. Adel Khu­bert was just a 10-year-old boy when Sad­dam Hussein’s Repub­lic Guard screamed over the bor­der from Iraq and took Kuwait by siege Aug. 2, 1990.
It was a scary time, he recalled. The images that flashed across the family’s TV screen revealed the ter­ror unfold­ing through­out Kuwait. “I felt ter­ri­ble because we had lost our coun­try,” he said.

 20th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm, Feb. 26, 2011
Kuwaiti army Capt. Adel Khu­bert, low­er left, was just a 10-year-old boy when Sad­dam Hussein’s Repub­lic Guard invad­ed Kuwait. Today, he and his fel­low sol­diers are cel­e­brat­ing the 20th anniver­sary of their country’s lib­er­a­tion dur­ing Oper­a­tion Desert Storm, Feb. 26, 2011.
DoD pho­to by Don­na Miles
Click to enlarge

But just as clear­ly as those dark, uncer­tain days, Khu­bert remem­bered the jubi­la­tion that over­took Kuwait when the coali­tion freed it from Saddam’s bloody grip Feb. 26, 1991. “We were so hap­py,” he said. “We were lib­er­at­ed from a tyrant.”

Serv­ing for the past six years in a Kuwaiti artillery unit, Khu­bert said he and his fel­low Kuwait­is have much to cel­e­brate today as they com­mem­o­rate the 20th anniver­sary of Kuwait’s lib­er­a­tion dur­ing Oper­a­tion Desert Storm.

Kuwait pulled out all the stops today to com­mem­o­rate three major mile­stones: the 50th anniver­sary of Kuwait’s inde­pen­dence from Great Britain, the 20th anniver­sary of its lib­er­a­tion dur­ing Oper­a­tion Desert Storm and the fifth anniver­sary of its rul­ing monarch’s reign.

“This is three cel­e­bra­tions, all in one,” said Sgt. Bad­er Abdul Aziz, a 14-year vet­er­an of the Kuwaiti army.

Like Khu­bert, Aziz has vivid mem­o­ries of the Iraqi inva­sion. He remem­bers the ter­ror that gripped him as he awak­ened at 5 a.m. to the roar of jets scream­ing over­head and the rum­ble of tanks on the street as ene­my forces fil­tered through the city.

“It made me crazy,” he said, grasp­ing to com­pre­hend all that was hap­pen­ing.

But 20 years lat­er, look­ing back, Aziz said the expe­ri­ence strength­ened him per­son­al­ly and Kuwait as a nation.

Aziz went on to join the Kuwaiti army, where he serves as an M1 tank mechan­ic com­mit­ted to his country’s defense. He also deployed to Iraq in 2003, the open­ing days of Oper­a­tion Iraqi Free­dom, where he worked as part of the coali­tion that ulti­mate­ly brought down Sad­dam Hus­sein.

Both the Unit­ed States and Kuwait have ben­e­fit­ed from the close rela­tion­ship forged 20 years ago dur­ing Oper­a­tion Desert Storm, Khu­bert said.

Khu­bert said he’s gained much pro­fes­sion­al­ly through the two coun­tries’ strong mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship. He attend­ed Eng­lish lan­guage train­ing at Lack­land Air Force Base in Texas and the field artillery offi­cer basic course at Fort Sill, Okla.

Train­ing close­ly with U.S. forces, Khu­bert said he and his Kuwaiti com­rades have gained tech­no­log­i­cal know-how and advanced bat­tle­field tech­niques.

“We have bond­ed togeth­er,” he said. “And it is mak­ing us stronger every day.”

That capa­bil­i­ty was on full dis­play here today as the Kuwait­is staged a mas­sive demon­stra­tion of mil­i­tary might. Fight­er jets roared over­head, stream­ing green, red and white smoke in their wake. Tanks and artillery pieces rum­bled past the offi­cial review­ing stand, and mil­i­tary mem­bers from every Desert Storm coali­tion nation marched by.

As the troops streamed by the offi­cial review­ing stand, they passed a mes­sage dis­played promi­nent­ly from the oppo­site embank­ment: “His­to­ry does not make heroes. Yet heroes make his­to­ry.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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