- "What the hell was that?"
"Are we clear to go in there?"
"No, sir. They were using human shields. We never got the green light."
- ―United States Air Force officers regarding the Battle of Gulmira
The Battle of Gulmira was an open confrontation between Iron Man and the Ten Rings when the latter attempted to forcefully conscript defenseless civilians in the village of Gulmira. The battle proved significant as it is first time Iron Man was made known to the United States Air Force and the Ten Rings, setting the stage for Tony Stark's eventual rise and announcement as a superhero.
- "The fifteen miles hike to the outskirts of Gulmira can only be described as a 'descent into Hell'. Into a modern day heart of darkness. Simple farmers and herders from peaceful villages have been driven from their homes, displaced from their lands by warlords, emboldened by a newfound power. Villagers have been forced to take shelter in whatever ways that they can find. In the ruins of other villages or here, in the remnants of an old Soviet smelting plant. Recent violence has been attributed to a group of foreign fighters, referred to by locals as the Ten Rings. As you can see, these men are heavily armed and on a mission. A mission that can prove fatal to anyone who stands in their way. With no political will or international pressure, there's very little hope for these refugees."
- ―Amira Ahmed
After being kidnapped and taken prisoner for three months, Tony Stark, with the help of Ho Yinsen, freed himself from the Ten Rings by building the first Iron Man armor. Ho Yinsen, a fellow captive and native of Gulmira whom Stark got to know and befriend, died in the escape.
Upon returning to the United States, Stark had a press conference, denouncing Stark Industries' past, deciding that weapons manufacturing was no longer a part of the company. This angered Obadiah Stane, who over the past three months had the ear of the Stark Board of Directors.
Christine Everhart, a spurned one-night-stand of Stark's, informed Stark that his company was still shipping weapons despite his instructions otherwise. Afterwards, Stark went to confront Stane who let him know that he was in charge because the Board believed Stark had PTSD and his decisions were detrimental to the company. Stark went home to watch news footage by Amira Ahmed about the plight of Gulmira while testing the weapons of the Mark III.
In Gulmira, the Ten Rings captured all able-bodied men to be conscripted into their organization. One man attempted to go back to his son and Abu Bakaar ordered one of his men to kill him. Before the terrorist could pull the trigger, Iron Man arrived and took him and several other terrorists out with his repulsors. Five other terrorists used civilians as human shields and Stark used his shoulder mounted gun to kill them at once. Bakar hid in a building and attempted to call for backup. Stark punched through the wall and pulled Bakaar through it and into the street. He left him for the villagers to deal with and took off.
While in flight, Stark detected Jericho Missiles but was shot down by a tank. Stark crashed in the street and caused a crater. When Stark got back to his feet, the tank fired again but Stark dodged the shell and fired a rocket down the cannon barrel and the tank exploded. Stark proceeded to destroy the Jericho Missiles and the rest of the Stark Industries weapons and flew away.
- "An unfortunate training exercise involving an F-22 Raptor occurred yesterday. I'm pleased to report that the pilot was not injured. As for the unexpected turn of events on the ground in Gulmira, it is still unclear who or what intervened, but I can assure you that the United States government was not involved."
- ―James Rhodes addresses the nation
As Stark was leaving Gulmira, he was discovered by Lacy of the United States Air Force, who sent two F-22 Raptors to discover what he was. Simultaneously, James Rhodes called Stark about an incident in Gulmira. Stark denied any involvement and Major Allen ordered the Raptors to engage the target. Stark evaded the weapons fire and collided with one of the Raptors. The pilot's parachute failed to deploy and Stark punched the jammed lever, saving the pilot.