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U.S. Army history from the year you were born

  • 1990: Gulf War starts

    Army strength: 732,403 people (0.29% of U.S. population)

    To leverage its requests for cancellation of debt to Gulf creditors following the Iran-Iraq war, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein threatened neighboring Kuwait. The threats escalated when Kuwait turned down Hussein's requests for debt forgiveness, and as the president accused the United States of intentionally weakening Iraq by pushing for reduced oil prices in Kuwait. A report 100,000 Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990, overrunning the country. 

  • 1991: Gulf ground war begins

    Army strength: 710,821 people (0.28% of U.S. population)

    The U.S. led an air and ground war invasion of Iraq just after the new year on Jan. 16, 1991. By the end of the first day, the first wave of troops took more than 10,000 of Hussein's soldiers prisoner. The Iraqi retreat from Kuwait and the end of the war came soon after on Feb. 28.

  • 1992: U.S. troops offer humanitarian aid in Somalia

    Army strength: 610,450 people (0.24% of U.S. population)

    Somalians cheered U.S. troops coming to help with humanitarian aid. Gradually, the U.S. became part of the strife and inter-clan wars.

  • 1993: Battle of Mogadishu

    Army strength: 572,423 people (0.22% of U.S. population)

    Operation Gothic Serpent and the Battle of Mogadishu commenced as 160 U.S. soldiers—comprised mainly of Army Rangers and Delta Force Operators—in Black Hawk Helicopters were attacked and shot at by Somalis from the streets. What was intended as an hour and a half mission turned into a battle that stretched on for 15 hours as the Black Hawks fell from the sky and U.S. soldiers were surrounded.

  • 1994: Operation Uphold Democracy

    Army strength: 541,343 people (0.21% of U.S. population)

    More than 20,000 troops entered Haiti as part of Operation Uphold Democracy. They landed without any opposition in their mission to help ensure a peaceful transition to a democratic government in Haiti.

  • 1995: Peace treaty ends Bosnia-Herzegovina conflict

    Army strength: 508,559 people (0.19% of U.S. population)

    Following a U.S.-brokered peace treaty, American members of the military—including the Army—were welcomed into the country with open arms. The treaty concluded what had been the most brutal, violent armed European conflict since World War II.

  • 1996: All-black Korean War unit has honor restored

    Army strength: 491,103 people (0.18% of U.S. population)

    Members of the all-black Korean War unit that was stripped of its honor and called cowards were given their honor back in an official Army report released publicly in April 1996. It wasn't until 1995 that researchers found that the unit performed similarly to the white units under the same stress and combat.

  • 1997: Seven black WWII soldiers get Medal of Honor

    Army strength: 491,707 people (0.18% of U.S. population)

    Not one Medal of Honor was awarded to a black soldier for service during World War II until a U.S. Army-commissioned 1993 study looked into racial discrimination in awarding medals. Results from the study showed a number of Distinguished Service Cross recipients ought to be rightfully upgraded to receive the Medal of Honor. President Bill Clinton did so on Jan. 13, 1997, when he awarded the highest military honor to seven black veterans from World War II. Of those named, only one—Vernon Baker—was alive to receive his medal.

  • 1998: Bosnia mission zaps U.S. Army strength

    Army strength: 484,928 people (0.18% of U.S. population)

    The high costs, time, and troop requirements of the U.S. mission in Bosnia led many to complain about the 6,900 combat troops in Bosnia. Many claimed U.S. troops there weakened the overall military strength of the Army.

  • 1999: Yugoslavians hold U.S. soldiers captive

    Army strength: 477,788 people (0.17% of U.S. population)

    Three U.S. Army soldiers in Yugoslavia for a peacekeeping mission were taken captive and held as prisoners of war for 32 days. Christopher Stone, Army Staff Sgt., Andrew Ramirez, and Specialist Steven Gonzales were ambushed while driving a Humvee and put in prison. National POW/MIA Recognition Day, held on the third Friday in September, was established to honor those veterans like Stone, Ramirez, and Gonzales who were prisoners of war—as well as those still missing in action.

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