Women in the Canadian Military

8 Gulf War The First Gulf War, or Persian Gulf War, started in August 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait with a force of 100,000 soldiers. Shortly thereafter, Canada deployed its warships as part of a coalition led by the United States. The warships were part of a naval blockade called Operation Desert Shield. In January 1991, Iraq ignored the deadline for withdrawal issued by the United Nations. At this point, the coalition switched to Operation Desert Storm and began launching air strikes. These were Canada’s first air-to-surface strikes since the Korean War. The Gulf War ended on February 28, 1991, though Saddam Hussein remained in power until the Second Gulf War. More than 4,000 Canadians served during the six-month conflict and marked the first instance where Canadian women served in active combat roles. Canada and the Gulf War: In Their Own Words explores the Gulf War experiences for four Canadian soldiers, including LCol (retired) Susan Beharriell, who was the first female intelligence officer in the Air Force. 1. Watch the Gulf War video and read the Persian Gulf War, 1990-91 article on The Canadian Encyclopedia. 2. As a class, discuss the following questions: • The Gulf War was the first war where Canadian women took on active combat roles. What kind of reaction do you think other members of the military had? • How do you think society at large reacted to women taking on combat roles? • Combat during the Gulf War looked more like it does today than how it did in the First and Second World Wars. How you think this influenced the decision to allow women into combat roles? • During the span of the Gulf War, Canadian troops were also involved in peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and Haiti. How do you think the day-to-day roles of troops in peacekeeping missions might have differed from the troops deployed in the war? (Refer to the section on the Cold War and Peacekeeping for more resources.) ACTIVITY #10 WOMEN IN COMBAT Still from Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words (Jessie Durham/Historica Canada). OS Kris Correa and MS Sharon Slenders during escort duties in the Gulf of Oman, 2003 (DND/CAF/Combat Camera/ MCpl Frank Hudec).