January 18, 1991 – With news flashing across TV screens and radios that Operation Desert Storm had begun, this day was the first full day of action in what would eventually lead to the ground invasion and quick end to the war against Saddam Hussein. On this day it was about the Air war, which began the previous night. With Air Force bombers targeting key Iraqi military installations and government buildings. The skies over Baghdad were lit up in a dazzling display of anti-aircraft tracers as flashes and explosions took place on the ground. Reporters, still stationed in the city, gave breathless accounts of the action over the city, as America became glued to TVs and radios, hanging on every report and update. As of this morning’s news, there had been some 2,000 sorties flown over Iraq. In retaliation, Iraq sent seven Scud missiles in an attack over Israel.
The Scud attacks threatened to derail the fragile coalition that had been assembled to fight Iraq. With Israel fearing the Scuds were equipped with chemical weapons and vowing retaliation, Jordan voiced anger that any attack from Israel would mean flying over Jordanian airspace to reach Iraq, which would be viewed as a provocative move, igniting a possible war against Israel and losing coalition support from the other Arab countries. Iraq claimed Israel had already flown retaliatory missions over Baghdad. Swift diplomatic measures were taken to assure Jordan that no such actions took place, and went on to assure Israel that the U.S. was working quickly to diffuse further Iraqi attacks on the country by staging round-the-clock bombing missions ahead of ground movement.
All of the news made for a certain sense of Wartime Patriotism on the part of many Americans. A rush to donate blood caused lines to form around most Red Cross facilities. A dramatic rise in enlistments and demonstrations in support of the war were drowning out those in opposition to it. War fever was now rising, which many observed hadn’t been as dramatic as the days right after Pearl Harbor and our entry into World War 2.
There was other news, news of how this new war would affect the Stock Market and how the world was reacting to the unfolding situation. But the main news on this day was about Desert Storm and how little else was going on. All as presented by The CBS World News Roundup and News Updates for January 18, 1991.