The fighting lasted just 43 days, an optimistic chapter in American diplomatic and military history that suggested a future where wars would be won quickly, with relatively little loss of life.
The future has proved more complicated than that, but the 1991 war to push Saddam Hussein's Iraqi forces out of neighboring Kuwait retains its place in history.
An all-star cast of the decision-makers behind the U.S.-led effort will meet in College Station Thursday to discuss the impact of the war on its 20th anniversary.
"It was important," said former President George H.W. Bush, who presided over the international coalition that restored Kuwait's government to power. "It showed you cannot take over another country with impunity."
Bush will join other key members of his administration in discussing the war's legacy. Among those expected to attend are former Vice President Dick Cheney, who was then secretary of defense, former secretaries of state James A. Baker III and Colin L. Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and former Vice President Dan Quayle.