Black Americans concerned over disproportionate number of Black Americans involved in Operation Desert Shield.
President George Bush promised an infusion of more than 500,000 troops to Saudi Arabia to assure an early end to Operation Desert Shield—a mission to liberate oil-rich Kuwait from the unyielding Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. A Wall Street Journal poll revealed that most Whites but only 41 percent of the nation's Black Americans supported Operation Desert Shield. Blacks also expressed concern over the disproportionate number of Black Americans in the military—many of whom were on the front line—and the belief that far too many minorities served in low-level military positions with far too few in leadership roles. A noted exception was the nation's top soldier, General Colin L. Powell, an Black American who served as chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Speculation about the quality of Black American life after Operation Desert Shield increased throughout the ordeal. The public television forum "Frontline" addressed the issue in a segment titled "Black America's War," a one-day town meeting in Philadelphia. Moderated by Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree, the program featured the Reverend Jesse Jackson; Lt. Gen. Frank Petersen, the first Black general in the U.S. Marine Corps; Pulitzer prize-winning author Roger Wilkins; Major Elwood Driver, a retired Army Air Corps officer; and journalist Hodding Carter III as panelists.