Expository Essay on United States Military Mission in the Middle East

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Unarguably, while in the realm of their operations the United States Army leaders have strategically planned, prepared, executed, and also assessed their operations simply by analyzing the operational environment regarding their operational variables as well as the mission variables. The army doctrine strategically uses eight interrelated operational variables for the sake of analyzing the environment in which the troops are serving in. More specifically, the American military makes use of the operational variables known as the PMESII-PT (Political, Military, Economic, Social, Information, Infrastructure-Physical environment and Time). The mission variables, on the other hand, are inclusive of the specific mission, enemy, terrain, weather, troops and the available support, the time available, and the civil consideration. Like the operational variables, the United States mission variables are well renowned using the acronym (METT-TC). About two decades ago, the then Iraqi president Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, an act that triggered Operation Desert Shield, the massive United States and allied deployment into the Middle East. According to scholars, the leading elements of that particular deployment constituted fighter aircraft among many other military elements. This being said, the core intent of this essay is to identify and discuss the operational and the mission variables that particularly impacted this United States military mission in the Middle East.

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To begin with, since the end of the Cold War, the American military forces have increased their actions in foreign countries regardless of the interested political party. Intelligence is considered one of the most crucial operational variables that substantially impacted the United States’ operations in the Middle East. The United States’ knowledge gained prominence during the Civil War making it an activity of the government in times of conflict, and this was extensively used about two decades ago. More precisely, in the Gulf War of 1991, the United States made use of their military intelligence to collect information and also made analysis approaches in the war between Iraq and Kuwait. While making their decision to respond to Iraq who had refused to leave Kuwait, the United States Military commanders extensively used their military intelligence that provided guidance and direction for their decision making. In this regard, the United States military commanders alongside the U.S and coalition aircraft did strike the Iraqi forces as well as the Iraqi and Kuwait military targets with the collaboration of their ally-countries and under the United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR). The information and the decision-making that was impacted by the use of the United States military intelligence saw the success of the troops when the US left United Nations forces launched a ground offensive which finally forced all the Iraqi forces out of the Kuwait soil in a span of about 100 hours.

Operational Environment

In the military doctrine, the operational environment is considered to be the combination of various conditions, influences as well as circumstances that determine the use of military forces and also assist the military unit commanders in making wise decisions. During the United States military operations in the Middle East in the early 1990s, culture, as well as the terrain, were some of the most significant environmental factors that influenced their operational effectiveness because broad diversity in culture characterizes the Middle East, especially countries like Kuwait.

Types of Operation

Since World War II, in the Middle East, the strategy has been the most significant regional manifestation of the United States grand strategy which is to build as well as to defend the humanistic international order. Based on this context, while in the realm of its regional and global strategy, studies evidence that the United States has initiated a lot of military operations in the Middle East as compared to any other place in the world, since 1945. Therefore, about two decades ago, the United States initiated various military operations such as Operation provide comfort, the southern operation watch, and a strike on Iraq in response to the alleged plot to assassinate President Bush in 1993, among various others.

Operation Provide Comfort (OPC)

This was one of the United States military operations in the Middle East. The Operation provided the United States-European alliance initiated comfort, which ran from 1991 to 2003 in response to Saddam Hussein’s plot to take military action against the Kurds in the Northern part of his country, Iraq. Although Saddam’s plan had a lot of grave impacts in Iraq, the OPC was perceived as the most successful and among the most significant American military operations of the 20th century. However, up to the modern-day today, this operation rarely garners its rightly deserved degree of attention or recognition. () contends that one primary reason as to why the OPC fails to receive its rightful credit is owing to its significant downside which was a softer approach and execution as compared to the other military operations. Besides, other scholars contend that this may be highly attributed to the fact that this mission operation was deemed as a more peaceful struggle that followed the massive operation by the United States military to liberate Kuwait.

Operation Desert Fox

This was a 1998 mission operation that was organized by President Bill Clinton. This operation involved a massive air and naval bombing of Iraq by the United States forces and the United Kingdom. The primary intention of this mission was to halt Iraq’s plan to use weapons of mass destruction (WMD), for their interference with weapons inspectors and also for disobeying the Security resolutions. Besides, according to Bill Clinton, the United States military forces’ primary objective while deployed in the Middle East during this time was to strike all Iraq’s military and security targets. This was intended to combat the country’s ability to produce, store, or even deliver weapons of mass destruction.

Operation Southern Watch

Similar to the two other military operations, Operation Southern Watch (OSW) targeted Iraq. However, this operation was initiated by the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR 688), which gave the ultimatum that Saddam Hussein brings to an end to the Iraqi civilian population, which he chose not to comply with.

In 1992, the United States government under Bush’s Presidency, therefore, announced the UN forces’ decision which was aimed at beginning a surveillance operation in Iraq below the 32nd parallel. Based on this context, the primary aim of this operation was to ensure that Saddam Hussein complied with the UNSCR 688 demand. The United States made use of different military elements and tools such as air-to-air missiles.

Common Cultural Characteristics in the Middle East and how they Impacted Military Operations

In the military doctrine, cultural characteristics pose as the most significant environmental variables which affect the operation of the military forces. Thus, in this understanding, Culture, especially during military deployments, is considered as yet another weapon in the arsenal of the world’s most powerful forces. More fundamentally, during the war against Iraq in Kuwait, the operation of the United States military forces was significantly impacted by Kuwait’s diverse yet complex cultural characteristics. Besides, Kuwait which has the Arab, Kuwaiti, and Islamic cultures, has had the effect of its military forces being compromised. Notably, during the United States response to Iraq, which had refused to leave Kuwait, the operation of the United States Military forces was affected by Kuwaitis cultural characteristics such as tribalism, family influences, wealth, modernization, personal relationships, and Islam among many others.

Islamic Beliefs as a Cultural Characteristic

In Kuwait, a novel blend of conservative and liberal society exists. This society, in turn, gives rise to a culture that is characterized by individuals whose adherence to both private and public tenets of Islam vary widely. Therefore, according to various researchers the United States intervention in the war between Iraq and Kuwait was partially negatively impacted by the Islamic view of war. This is substantiated by the Islamic laws which stipulate various guidelines of how wars are to be conducted and also when war is considered to be ethically right. For instance, owing to the fact that the Islamic law states that war is ethically permissible when it is used in self-defense, these beliefs fuelled the conflict between Kuwait and the Iraqi forces, making it a little harder for the intervention of the United States military forces.


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Kahana, Ephraim, and Muhammad Suwaed. Historical Dictionary of Middle Eastern Intelligence. Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press, 2009.

Myre, Greg. "America's Middle East Scorecard: Many Interventions, Few Successes." NPR.org. Last modified August 25, 2014.

Ricks, Thomas. "Military Intelligence: a List of Essential Readings." Foreign Policy. Last modified July 31, 2009.

Zenko, Micah. "Operation Desert Fox: A Blueprint for Crushing Iran's Nuclear Program?" The National Interest. Last modified April 15, 2015.

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