The Gulf War would be the largest deployment of Marines since the Vietnam War. It challenged the entire warfighting establishment of the Marine Corps—aviation, ground, and logistics—forcing a generation of Marines to put two decades of planning and training to the test. The Corps would see many of its tactical and operational philosophies justified under combat conditions. The maritime prepositioning ships program, for one, proved its worth, enabling Marines to be the first combined arms task force in Saudi Arabia. In addition, Marines tested the air-ground task force concept within the joint environment.
Marines of the 7th Marine Expeditionary Brigade arrived in Saudi Arabia in late August, where they married up with their equipment from the maritime prepositioning ships. Under Marine Forces Commander, Central Command, and Commander, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Lieutenant General Walter E. Boomer, Marines continued to deploy to the Gulf and solidify the defenses of Saudi Arabia. They trained, established defensive positions, and watched the diplomatic efforts attempt to resolve the crisis.
As fall turned to winter, the Marine Corps continued the massive logistical enterprise, deploying personnel and equipment of I Marine Expeditionary Force: 1st and 2d Marine Divisions, 3d Marine Aircraft Wing, and the 1st Force Service Support Group.
General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the United States Central Command commander, chose the Marines to evict the Iraqis from Kuwait proper, fighting alongside Arab members of the Coalition. As Lieutenant General Boomer's I Marine Expeditionary Force and its partners prepared to breach the fortifications separating Kuwait from Saudi Arabia, the 4th and 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigades remained afloat in the Persian Gulf onboard the ships of U.S. Navy amphibious ready groups, providing a seaborne threat which would eventually tie up many Iraqi resources along the shoreline.