WASHINGTON - Retired US General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr, who headed coalition forces that drove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's army out of Kuwait in Operation Desert Storm, has died, a US official said on Thursday. He was 78.

The highly decorated four-star general died at 2:22 p.m. ET at his home in Tampa, Florida, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Schwarzkopf, a burly Vietnam War veteran known as Stormin' Norman, commanded more than 540,000 US troops and 200,000 allied forces in a six-week war that routed Hussein's army from Kuwait in 1991, capping his 34-year military career.

Former President George H.W. Bush said he and his wife Barbara "mourn the loss of a true American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his generation," according to a statement released by Bush's spokesman. The former president has been hospitalized in Houston since late November.

Some experts hailed Schwarzkopf's plan to trick and outflank Iraqi forces with a sweeping armored movement, which ended the ground war in only 100 hours, as one of the great accomplishments in military history.

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