Answer Sheet - The Canadian Armed Forces and the Gulf War Fact Quest

1. Where did the Gulf War take place?

The Gulf War took place in the heart of the oil-rich Middle East and chiefly involved the neighbouring countries of Iraq and Kuwait which border the shores of the Persian Gulf.

2. What act of aggression sparked the Gulf War and when did it take place? What were some of the motivations behind Iraq’s actions?

Iraq had long felt that Kuwait was really a part of Iraq and that Kuwaiti oil rigs were illegally tapping into Iraqi oil fields. On August 2, 1990, the situation came to a head when Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait, quickly taking control of its much smaller neighbour.

3. How many Canadian Armed Forces members in total served in the conflict? What was the largest number of Canadians who served there at one time?

More than 4,000 Canadian Armed Forces members served in the Persian Gulf region in 1990-1991 as part of the international coalition of countries that came together to drive the invading forces of Iraq out of Kuwait. The peak number of Canadian Armed Forces members in the Persian Gulf region at one time was some 2,700 personnel.

4. What warships were with the Canadian Naval Task Force during the period of the Gulf War?

The Canadian Naval Task Group – consisting of the destroyers HMCS Terra Nova and HMCS Athabaskan, and the supply ship HMCS Protecteur – helped support the Coalition fleet efforts in the region. Five Sea King helicopters were also part of this force.

5. What was the name of the airbases in Qatar from which Canadian CF-18s operated? What role did our warplanes play?

CF-18 jet squadrons with approximately 500 personnel operated out of the ‘Canada Dry’ bases in the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, performing combat air control, escort and reconnaissance missions.

6. Previous to the Gulf War, what had been the last conflict in which Canadians had launched air-to-surface attacks?

For the first time since the Korean War, Canadian air-to-surface attacks took place during the Gulf War.

7. What ‘first’ took place during the Gulf War that related to female Canadian Armed Forces members?

The Gulf War marked the first time that female Canadian Armed Forces members performed combat duties. It was especially challenging for these trail-blazing women because they were serving in conservative Middle Eastern countries where traditional gender roles are very different than in Canada.

8. When did the active fighting begin with the onset of the Coalition air campaign? When did the Coalition ground campaign kick off?

On January 16-17, 1991, Operation Desert Storm began as Coalition forces launched a devastating air campaign after a final deadline for Iraq’s withdrawal was ignored. This was followed by an armoured and infantry ground offensive that commenced on February 24 which rapidly pushed the Iraqis out of Kuwait.

9. What was the name given to the build-up of Coalition forces in the Persian Gulf region? What was the military codename of Canada’s participation in the conflict?

Operation Desert Shield saw the build-up of Coalition forces in the Gulf region. The Canadian Armed Forces participation in the military efforts there would be codenamed Operation Friction.

10. What role did Canadian Armed Forces members play in the region following the end of the Gulf War?

After the Gulf War ended, Canadian troops remained in the region as part of the UN peacekeeping mission along the Iraq-Kuwait border, monitoring the demilitarized zone between the two countries, investigating cease-fire violations and clearing land mines. Canada also had a role in the years that followed in the special commission to seek out Iraq's biological, chemical and nuclear weapons production facilities. On the water, Canadian warships helped to enforce the economic sanctions that had been imposed on Iraq after the conflict.

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