US General who led the campaign in the First Gulf War;

Born: August 22, 1934; Died: December 27, 2012.

Norman Schwarzkopf, who has died at the age of 78, was the US Commander known to his troops as Stormin' Norman who led the 100-hour ground war that routed the Iraqi army in 1991.

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The burly Vietnam War veteran commanded more than 540,000 US troops and 200,000 allied forces, including 50,000 Brits, that not only routed Saddam Hussein's army from Kuwait but also gloriously capped his 34-year military career. Some experts hailed his plan to trick and outflank Hussein's forces with a sweeping armoured movement as one of the great accomplishments in military history.

Throughout the war, he was a familiar sight on television, clad in camouflage fatigues and a cap. He conducted fast-paced briefings and reviewed his troops with a purposeful stride. He was also extremely quotable. At one briefing he addressed Saddam's military reputation. "As far as Saddam Hussein being a great military strategist," he said, "he is neither a strategist, nor is he schooled in the operational arts, nor is he a tactician, nor is he a general, nor is he a soldier. Other than that, he's a great military man, I want you to know that."

Gen Schwarzkopf returned from the war a hero and there was talk of him running for public office. Instead he wrote an autobiography, It Doesn't Take a Hero, and served as a military analyst. He also acted as a spokesman for the fight against prostate cancer, with which he was diagnosed in 1993. He was also active in various charities for chronically ill children.

He was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of a policeman, and graduated from the US Military Academy in New York in 1956. He saw combat twice, first in Vietnam, where he led his men in firefights, and then in the 1983 Grenada invasion, where he commanded all US ground forces. His chestful of medals included three Silver and three Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts for Vietnam wounds.

In 1988 he was put in charge of the US Central Command in Tampa, with responsibility for the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and south Asia. In that role, he prepared a plan to protect the Gulf's oil fields from a hypothetical invasion by Iraq. Within months, the plan was in use.

A soldier's soldier in an era of polished, politically conscious military technocrats, his mouth sometimes got him in trouble. In one interview, he said he had recommended to President George Bush that allied forces destroy Iraq's military instead of stopping the war after a clear victory.

He later apologised after both Mr Bush and Defence Secretary Dick Cheney fired back that there was no contradiction among military leaders to Mr Bush's decision to leave some of Saddam's military intact.

After retirement, he spoke his mind on military matters. He was ambivalent about the 2003 invasion of Iraq, saying he doubted victory would be as easy as the White House and the Pentagon predicted. He also criticised Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary at the time, telling The Washington Post that during war-time television appearances "he almost sometimes seems to be enjoying it".

He served in his last military assignment in Tampa, Florida, as commander-in-chief of US Central Command, the headquarters responsible for US military and security concerns in nearly 20 countries from the eastern Mediterranean and Africa to Pakistan.

He is survived by his wife, Brenda, two daughters and one son.