The United States has been the driving force behind the international coalition ever since Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990. In the weeks after the invasion, the United States led a diplomatic effort that created a 28-nation multinational force. After a series of ultimatums, the U.S.-led force launched an attack from Saudi territory and forced the Iraqi army out from Kuwait.
When the Gulf war ended, U.N. resolutions gave the coalition the right to protect Iraqi Kurds in the north, to inspect Iraqi facilities suspected of producing weapons of mass destruction and to restrict flights of Iraq's air force in much of the rest of the country. The United States has used force since the end of the war to enforce these resolutions. On one occasion in 1994, the United States fired a cruise missile at Baghdad to punish Iraq for its alleged complicity in a plot to assassinate former President George Bush.
The current standoff over weapons inspections finds the United States again pressing for aggressive action against Iraq. The United States has said it regards Saddam Hussein's October decision to bar U.S. members of the U.N. weapons inspection team as a material breach of the Gulf war cease-fire terms, something that could justify military action without any further U.N. action. Iraqi efforts to offer compromises have been rejected as gimmicks by the U.S., which claims to have evidence that Baghdad is developing biological weapons.
But the U.S. is working to line up as much support as possible before resorting to military action. In preparation, the U.S. has deployed three aircraft carriers and a small flotilla of Tomahawk missile capable escorts in the Arabian Gulf (Persian Gulf). Additionally, new aircraft have been sent to regional bases and a small increase in U.S. troops strenght has also occurred. A third carrier is en route.
United States involvement in Gulf War 91:
540,000 troops, 6 aircraft carriers, submarines, 4,000 tanks, 1,700 helicopters, 1,800 airplanes
The White House
U.S. Department of State, Official Web Site
U.S. Department of Defense, Official Website