POSTED: Friday, December 28, 2012 - 12:00pm
UPDATED: Friday, December 28, 2012 - 12:04pm
NATIONAL NEWS (CNN) — Retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded coalition forces during the Gulf War, died Thursday, a U.S. official said. He was 78.
After Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, Schwarzkopf directed the buildup of 700,000 coalition troops. On January 17, 1991, his troops began a nearly six-week air assault of Iraqi forces that was followed by a swift ground campaign that pushed Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait.
Former President George H.W. Bush, who is hospitalized, said the general was a "true American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his generation."
Schwarzkopf went to the U.S. Military Academy and graduated in 1956, according to Britannica Online.
He was commissioned a second lieutenant and served two tours of duty in Vietnam.
In 1988, Schwarzkopf was appointed commander of U.S. Central Command.
Schwarzkopf made a reputation as a plain-spoken commander when he gave media briefings during Operation Desert Storm. He came to be known as "Stormin' Norman."
He retired in August 1991, hit the lecture circuit and was a military analyst for NBC.
Schwarzkopf wrote a book entitled "It Doesn't Take a Hero: The Autobiography of General Norman H. Schwarzkopf."
In it, he outlined the reasons that coalition forces didn't press onto the Iraqi capital during the first Gulf War.
"Had the United States and the United Kingdom gone on alone to capture Baghdad, under the provisions of the Geneva and Hague conventions we would have been considered occupying powers and therefore would have been responsible for all the costs of maintaining or restoring government, education and other services for the people of Iraq."
Schwarzkopf wrote that had "we taken all of Iraq, we would have been like a dinosaur in the tar pit -- we would still be there, and we, not the United Nations, would be bearing the costs of that occupation."
A U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq in 2003, leading to the eventual capture of Hussein.
CNN's Barbara Starr and David Ariosto contributed to this report.