The Australian Defence Force yesterday honoured the sacrifices of those who fought to liberate Kuwait 25 years ago in the First Gulf War.
A commemorative service held at the Navy Memorial in Canberra marked the 25th anniversary of the cessation of hostilities in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Damask.
After Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1990 the international community responded with swift condemnation and a large multinational task force was assembled to counter the invasion.
Thirty countries contributed to the coalition, including Australia, and on 28 February 1991 Iraqi forces were expelled from Kuwait.
Vice Chief of the Defence Force Vice Admiral Ray Griggs said it was important to recognise all who contributed to the liberation of Kuwait, and in particular those who lost their lives or had their lives changed by the conflict.
“While no ADF members were killed during the First Gulf War, other countries suffered significant losses and it is important that we remember those sacrifices,” Vice Admiral Griggs said.
“This ceremony is an important acknowledgement of the breadth of military losses and civilian suffering experienced as a result of Saddam Hussein’s actions.”
Vice Admiral Griggs said the ADF contribution involved all three services, including personnel who served with coalition forces.
“Importantly, the seven Navy women on board the replenishment ship HMAS Westralia were the first ADF women to serve in combat roles in warlike service,” he said.
“Australians should reflect on the contribution of all ADF members with pride.”
Shortly after the invasion, and with just 72 hours notice, HMA Ships Adelaide, Darwin and Success were making their way to the region to assist with the enforcement of maritime sanctions.
They were extensively supported by the Royal Australian Air Force en route to assist them in readying for the uncertain task ahead.
At the end of 1990, HMAS Brisbane and Sydney replaced Adelaide and Darwin and operated as an integral part of the Gulf naval strike force known as Battle Force Zulu, for which they received US Navy Meritorious Unit Citations for ‘sustained outstanding service in warlike operations’.
The Royal Australian Navy’s clearance divers were also recognised with a Meritorious Unit Citation for their outstanding work in clearing mines and unexploded ammunition from Kuwait’s ports.
Army and RAAF personnel were also deployed in support of coalition efforts to liberate Kuwait in a variety of roles.
ADF health specialists deployed in the US Navy Hospital Ship Comfort.
After the war, more health personnel deployed in challenging conditions to Kurdish parts of Iraq to help the many civilians living in refugee camps.