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In Pictures: The Grim And Absurd Reality Of The First Gulf War

"Our strategy to go after the Army is very, very simple. First we are going to cut it off, and then we're going to kill it." —Colin Powell

On Aug. 2, 1990, Iraqi forces invaded neighboring Kuwait over alleged violations of the Iraq border. Within a matter of hours, the small, oil-rich nation had surrendered to the invading forces. On Jan. 16, 1991, Operation Desert Storm commenced as a US-led coalition of nearly three dozen nations — consisting of 956,600 troops, 700,000 of which were US military — launched an intensive war against the invading Iraqi army. By Feb. 28, the Iraqi military was crippled as President George H. W. Bush signed an official cease-fire and end to the first Gulf War. In total, 148 US soldiers were killed and another 457 wounded. While there is no official count of Iraqi casualties, it is believed that some 25,000 soldiers were killed and another 100,000 civilians perished.

Left: An unidentified American Gulf War soldier poses for a portrait before the coalition-led ground invasion of Iraq. Left: Sgt. Jeff Theim from the 82nd Airborne applies camouflage paint to his face in the Saudi desert on Aug. 31, 1990.

Left: US Marines with the 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, conquer Iraqi-style trenches during an exercise in the Saudi Arabian desert on Jan. 12, 1991. Right: US Army Pvt. Christopher Willard plays with the company mascot, Bernard, while relaxing from duty along the front line near Safwan, Iraq, on March 5, 1991.

Left: US Armed Services troops march in the Operation Welcome Home ticker-tape parade in New York City on June 10, 1991. Right: A woman in an American flag bikini top joins patriotic spectators at the victory parade.