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“I’m not convinced his ‘Stormin’ Norman’ rage was all that useful in dealing with subordinates or dealing with bureaucracy,” he added.

Before the war, most Americans did not know H. Norman Schwarzkopf of Tampa, Fla., where he led U.S. Central Command and its military assets in the Middle East. But when Saddam’s forces invaded Kuwait in August 1990, and President George H.W. Bush declared, “This will not stand,” he turned to Gen. Schwarzkopf to back up his words.

The general’s long career, a mix of war-fighting, maneuver training and scholarship, made him the perfect fit. He was Army to the bone. Born in 1934, the son of a general who went to West Point, Gen. Schwarzkopf was also an U.S. Military Academy graduate, class of 1956.

Most profiles during the Persian Gulf War noted that his father, who fought in World War I, had founded the New Jersey State Police and investigated the infamous kidnapping of Charles Lindberg’s son in 1936.

Gen. Schwarzkopf the son also fought in war, the Vietnam conflict. He volunteered in 1966, was a twice-wounded battalion commander and ended up at Walter Reed Army Hospital for surgery in 1971.

The surgery did not stop his career. He checked the list for senior rank by graduating from the Army War College.

By the late 1970s, he was a brigadier general, and then led forces in the 1983 invasion of Grenada. By 1988, he earned a fourth star and directorship of U.S. Central Command. Two years later, Saddam invaded Kuwait and Gen.Schwarzkopf headed to Saudi Arabia.

Air Force briefers traveled there to convince him of the virtues of an air-first campaign. But he did not ignore his own. He and his planners devised a “left hook” maneuver whereby mechanized Army divisions moved out of Saudi Arabia, north of Kuwait, then encircled Iraqi units and unleashed superior fire to destroy scores of armored vehicles. Saddam sounded a retreat in less than five days of ground combat.

Gen. Schwarzkopf had a flash disagreement with the White House. He wanted to fight a war of annihilation, as he has been taught. But Mr. Bush declared “we are not in the slaughter business” and ordered a cease-fire after 100 hours of ground operations.

The general traveled to a tent in southern Iraq to sign the agreement with Iraqi generals, but not Saddam himself, who declared victory.

The general told an interviewer he graded Mr. Bush  a “10” as commander in chief for letting him prosecute the war free of political interference.

His career capped by victory, Gen. Schwarzkopf retired and wrote a best-selling autobiography, “It Doesn’t Take a Hero.” With his uniform tucked away, he served as a military analyst for NBC News, gave speeches and did volunteer work for animal conservation.