Persian Gulf War (1990-91)
On 2 August 1990 troops of the Republic of Iraq invaded the State of Kuwait, its southern neighbour. By 4 August, the Kuwaiti Armed Forces were defeated and Kuwait was absorbed by Iraq as a new province. The invasion was immediately condemned by the world’s major powers. United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 660 (6 August 1990) demanded withdrawal from Kuwait and imposed trade embargo on Iraq, to be enforced by naval blockade. Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) also condemned the invasion. Security Council Resolution 678 (29 November 1990) demanded Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait by 15 January 1991, and authorised UN member states to use military force should Resolution 678 be ignored by Iraq.
Iraq’s failure to withdraw in compliance with the Security Council resolution led a UN authorised military response on 17 January 1991 by a coalition of forces from more than thirty nations. It began with air attacks on Iraqi troop concentrations, followed on 23 February 1991 by a ground action.
A Canadian navy task group consisting of two destroyers, HMCS Athabaskan and Terra Nova supported by the replenishment oiler HMCS Protecteur (with armament similar to that of the destroyers), was deployed to the Persian Gulf to join the UN naval blockade. The naval blockade was tasked with inspecting all inbound and outbound shipping in the Persian Gulf to prevent exports from, or the shipment of weapons to, Iraq and Kuwait in violation of Security Council Resolution 661.
The Canadian Task Force arrived in Bahrain on 27 September 1990, and began its work as part of a Multinational Interception Force (MIF) in the central Persian Gulf on 1 October 1990.
Combined Logistic Force built around the Canadian Task Force from 10 January 1991.
Task force departed on 12 march 1991. Met HMCS Huron on her way to Persian Gulf. Huron arrived 24 April to serve for two months as part of the continued naval blockade of Iraq.
660 (6 August 1990) condemns Iraqi invasion of Kuwait
661 (9 August 1990) Imposes economic sanctions against Iraq. All states to prevent (a) imports from Iraq or Kuwait, (b) transfer of funds to Iraq or Kuwait, (c) sale of weapons to Iraq or Kuwait, (d) making funds available to Iraq or Kuwait or any entity, there, except for humanitarian purposes.
678 (29 November 1990) demands Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait in compliance with Resolution 660. If not complied with by 15 January, member states authorised to use all necessary means to implement 660.
Naval blockade “to halt all inward and outward maritime shipping in order to inspect and verify their cargoes and destinations and to ensure strict implementation of resolution 661.”
When Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990 and Canada found itself going to war yet again, the nation turned once more to the navy to lead the response. None of the new patrol frigates or the modernised Iroquois class were ready for operations, but a three-ship task group (Athabaskan, Terra Nova and Protecteur) and a clutch of Sea Kings were hastily upgraded with equipment “borrowed” from the new programmes.
Within two weeks of the call, they set sail for the Persian (Arabian) Gulf. While equipment limitations vis-a-vis other coalition partners meant that the task group could not take a position on the front lines, the unique combination of command and control equipment, personal leadership skills, and national reputation led to the Canadian task group commander exercising a major Coalition naval warfare responsibility, the only non-USN officer to do so.