On February 25th and 26th, Kuwait celebrates its 50th National Day and commemorates the 20th anniversary of its liberation from the Iraqi invasion.
The Kuwaiti Army's role in confronting the invasion and its subsequent development are being highlighted during the celebrations.
Al-Shorfa met with retired Brigadier General Salem Masoud al-Surour, who was the commander of the "Martyr Brigade" during the liberation battle. He talked about his role at the time of the invasion, the eventual liberation and the development of the Kuwaiti Army since 1991.
Al-Shorfa: What was your role at the time of the Iraqi invasion in 1990?
Salem Masoud Al-Surour: I was commander of the 35th Armoured Brigade, which confronted the invading forces during the "Bridges Battle" on August 2nd, 1990. The battle acquired this name because it took place at the junction of the sixth and seventh administrative districts. I was also commander of the "Martyr's Brigade", which was the first brigade to start the liberation war after we received training in Saudi Arabia under the supervision of Prince Khaled bin Sultan.
Al-Shorfa: What did the Kuwaiti Army accomplish during the Iraqi invasion?
Al-Surour: The Kuwait Army did whatever it could to defend the country even though it was not prepared and given the surprise nature of the attack which the enemy exploited. The Kuwaiti Army continued to manoeuvre, and many of its members helped with resistance operations. They helped men with the resistance in Kuwait through raids which they carried out on the borders.
There was ongoing training in preparation for the liberation battle. The island of Qaruh was the first Kuwaiti territory to be liberated after the Iraqi invasion.
Al-Shorfa: Do you know how many martyrs and captives there were from the Kuwaiti Army?
Al-Surour: I don't have the total number of martyrs and captives, but I can say that my brigade lost four martyrs. It was called the "Martyr's Brigade" because it was the first unit to have martyrs. This is a small number compared with the number of soldiers in the brigade, which was around 800 whereas the number of the Iraqi forces was three times our size.
Some official figures say the Kuwaiti Army lost 593 martyrs during the invasion and the liberation.
The Kuwaiti Army played a big role in recovering our land from Saddam's invasion, and in teaching the Iraqi army and the former regime a big lesson about how Kuwaitis love their country and how they defended it with courage.
Al-Shorfa: How has the Kuwaiti Army developed since the invasion?
Al-Surour: After the liberation war the Kuwaiti Army received training with the latest warfare equipment. Advanced military and warfare technology was added. It is now up to date with the latest advancements in the military field.
Al-Shorfa: Tell us about the exercises the Kuwaiti Army conducts annually.
Al-Surour: The Kuwaiti Army begins its annual training at the beginning of September, and it continues until the end of May.
During this period about three exercises per month are conducted. They continue until the end of the training. The units involved participate in one large exercise in the last month of training to assess their progress. The exercises vary between sea land, and air. Members of the Kuwaiti Army travel abroad to obtain training, and then they return to Kuwait.
Al-Shorfa: What are some of the Kuwaiti Army's current achievements?
Al-Surour: Its main role today is to defend Kuwait and its people from any danger that might arise and protect the borders from any aggression. With the sophisticated technology it uses today, it can confront any kind of danger the country might be subjected to.