The invasion of Kuwait by Iraq on 2 August 1990 paved the way for the formation of a multinational force comprising 40,000 troops from thirty countries which would enforce United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Over 1,800 Australian Defence personnel were deployed in the Gulf War from August 1990 to September 1991. The force comprised units from the Army, Navy and RAAF. In addition Army and RAAF provided personnel to Operation Habitat.
The Australian contribution was two Oliver Hazard Class frigates, the replenishment ship HMAS Success (relieved by HMAS Westralia in January 1991), HMAS Sydney (IV), HMAS Adelaide, HMAS Brisbane and HMAS Darwin. A detachment from the Army's 16th Air Defence Regiment, a RAN Clearance Diving Team, RAAF photo-interpreters, Defence Intelligence Organisation personnel, and 4 medical teams.
No deaths occurred among Australian personnel although Coalition losses amounted to 166.
Operations were named Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Desert Farewell.