On 17 February 2010, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that as of 1 September, the name "Operation Iraqi Freedom" would be replaced by "Operation New Dawn".
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On 18 April, US and Iraqi forces killed Abu Ayyub al-Masri the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq in a joint American and Iraqi operation near Tikrit, Iraq. The coalition forces believed al-Masri to be wearing a suicide vest and proceeded cautiously. After the lengthy exchange of fire and bombing of the house, the Iraqi troops stormed inside and found two women still alive, one of whom was al-Masri's wife, and four dead men, identified as al-Masri, Abu Abdullah al-Rashid al-Baghdadi, an assistant to al-Masri, and al-Baghdadi's son. A suicide vest was indeed found on al-Masri's corpse, as the Iraqi Army subsequently stated. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced the killings of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri at a news conference in Baghdad and showed reporters photographs of their bloody corpses. "The attack was carried out by ground forces which surrounded the house, and also through the use of missiles," Mr Maliki said. "During the operation computers were seized with e-mails and messages to the two biggest terrorists, Osama bin Laden and [his deputy] Ayman al-Zawahiri", Maliki added. U.S. forces commander Gen. Raymond Odierno praised the operation. "The death of these terrorists is potentially the most significant blow to al Qaeda in Iraq since the beginning of the insurgency", he said. "There is still work to do but this is a significant step forward in ridding Iraq of terrorists."
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden stated that the deaths of the top two al Qaeda figures in Iraq are "potentially devastating" blows to the terror network there and proof that Iraqi security forces are gaining ground.
On 20 June, Iraq's Central Bank was bombed in an attack that left 15 people dead and brought much of downtown Baghdad to a standstill. The attack was claimed to have been carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq. This attack was followed by another attack on Iraq's Bank of Trade building that killed 26 and wounded 52 people.
In late August 2010, insurgents conducted a major attack with at least 12 car bombs simultaneously detonating from Mosul to Basra and killing at least 51. These attacks coincided with the U.S. plans for a withdrawal of combat troops.
From the end of August 2010, the United States attempted to dramatically cut its combat role in Iraq, with the withdrawal of all US ground forces designated for active combat operations. The last US combat brigades departed Iraq in the early morning of 19 August. Convoys of US troops had been moving out of Iraq to Kuwait for several days, and NBC News broadcast live from Iraq as the last convoy crossed the border. While all combat brigades left the country, an additional 50,000 personnel (including Advise and Assist Brigades) remained in the country to provide support for the Iraqi military. These troops are required to leave Iraq by 31 December 2011 under an agreement between the US and Iraqi governments.
The desire to step back from an active counter-insurgency role did not however mean that the Advise and Assist Brigades and other remaining US forces would not be caught up in combat. A standards memo from the Associated Press reiterated "combat in Iraq is not over, and we should not uncritically repeat suggestions that it is, even if they come from senior officials".
State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley stated "...we are not ending our work in Iraq, We have a long-term commitment to Iraq." On 31 August, Obama announced the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom from the Oval Office. In his address, he covered the role of the United States' soft power, the effect the war had on the United States economy, and the legacy of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
On the same day in Iraq, at a ceremony at one of Saddam Hussein's former residences at Al Faw Palace in Baghdad, a number of US dignitaries spoke in a ceremony for television cameras, avoiding overtones of the triumphalism present in US announcements made earlier in the war. Vice President Joe Biden expressed concerns regarding the ongoing lack of progress in forming a new Iraqi government, saying of the Iraqi people that "they expect a government that reflects the results of the votes they cast". Gen. Ray Odierno stated that the new era "in no way signals the end of our commitment to the people of Iraq". Speaking in Ramadi earlier in the day, Gates said that U.S. forces "have accomplished something really quite extraordinary here, [but] how it all weighs in the balance over time I think remains to be seen". When asked by reporters if the seven-year war was worth doing, Gates commented that "It really requires a historian's perspective in terms of what happens here in the long run". He noted the Iraq War "will always be clouded by how it began" in regards Saddam Hussein's supposed weapons of mass destruction, which were never confirmed to have existed. Gates continued, "This is one of the reasons that this war remains so controversial at home". On the same day Gen. Ray Odierno was replaced by Lloyd Austin as Commander of US forces in Iraq.
On 7 September, two US troops were killed and nine wounded in an incident at an Iraqi military base. The incident is under investigation by Iraqi and US forces, but it is believed that an Iraqi soldier opened fire on US forces.
On 8 September, the U.S. Army announced the arrival in Iraq of the first specifically-designated Advise and Assist Brigade, the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment. It was announced that the unit would assume responsibilities in five southern provinces. From 10–13 September, Second Advise and Assist Brigade, 25th Infantry Division fought Iraqi insurgents near Diyala.
According to reports from Iraq, hundreds of members of the Sunni Awakening Councils may have switched allegiance back to the Iraqi insurgency or al Qaeda.
Wikileaks disclosed 391,832 classified U.S. military documents on the Iraq War. Approximately, 58 people were killed with another 40 wounded in an attack on the Sayidat al Nejat church, a Chaldean Catholic church in Baghdad. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq organization.
Coordinated attacks in primarily Shia areas struck throughout Baghdad on 2 November, killing approximately 113 and wounding 250 with around 17 bombs.
Iraqi security forces transition towards self-reliance
Preparing to buy $13 billion worth of American arms, the Iraq Defense Ministry intends to transform the country's degraded conventional forces into a state-of-the-art military and become among the world’s biggest customers for American military arms and equipment. Part of the planned purchase includes 140 M1 Abrams main battle tanks. Iraqi crews have already begun training on them. In addition to the $13 billion purchase, the Iraqis have requested 18 F-16 Fighting Falcons as part of a $4.2 billion program that also includes aircraft training and maintenance, AIM 9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, laser-guided bombs and reconnaissance equipment. If approved by Congress, the first aircraft could arrive in spring 2013. Under the plan, the first 10 pilots would be trained in the United States.
The Iraqi navy also inaugurated U.S. built Swift Class patrol boat at Umm Qasr, Iraq's main port at the northern end of the gulf. Iraq is to take delivery of 14 more of these $20 million, 50-foot craft before U.S. forces depart. The high-speed vessels' main mission will be to protect the oil terminals at al Basra and Khor al-Amiya through which some 1.7 million barrels a day are loaded into tankers for export. Two U.S. built offshore support vessels, each costing $70 million, were expected to be delivered in 2011.
M1 Abrams tanks in Iraqi service, January 2011
The United States Department of Defense had issued notification of an additional $100 million proposed sales of arms from the US to Iraq. General Dynamics is to be the prime contractor on a $36 million deal for the supply of ammunition for Iraq’s Abrams M1 A1 tanks. The sale consists of: 14,010 TP-T M831A1 120mm Cartridges; 16,110 TPCSDS-T M865 120mm Cartridges; and 3,510 HEAT-MP-T M830A1 120mm Cartridges. Raytheon is proposed as the prime contractor for a $68 million package of "Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) Systems".
UN lifts restrictions on Iraq
In a move to legitimize the existing Iraqi government, the United Nations lifted the Saddam Hussein-era UN restrictions on Iraq. These included allowing Iraq to have a civilian nuclear program, permitting the participation of Iraq in international nuclear and chemical weapons treaties, as well as returning control of Iraq's oil and gas revenue to the government and ending the Oil-for-Food Programme.
2011: U.S. withdrawal
Muqtada al-Sadr returned to Iraq in the holy city of Najaf to lead the Sadrist movement after being in exile since 2007.
On 15 January 2011, three U.S. troops were killed in Iraq. One of the troops was killed on a military operation in central Iraq, while the other two troops were deliberately shot by one or two Iraqi soldiers during a training exercise.
On 6 June, five U.S. troops were killed in an apparent rocket attack on Camp Victory, located near Baghdad International Airport. A sixth soldier, who was wounded in the attack, died 10 days later of his wounds.
On 29 June, three U.S. troops were killed in a rocket attack on a U.S. base located near the border with Iran. It was speculated that the militant group responsible for the attack was the same one which attacked Camp Victory just over three weeks before. With the three deaths, June 2011, became the bloodiest month in Iraq for the U.S. military since June 2009, with 15 U.S. soldiers killed, only one of them outside combat.
In September, Iraq signed a contract to buy 18 Lockheed Martin F-16 warplanes, becoming the 26th nation to operate the F-16. Because of windfall profits from oil, the Iraqi government is planning to double this originally planned 18, to 36 F-16s. Iraq is relying on the U.S. military for air support as it rebuilds its forces and battles a stubborn Islamist insurgency.
With the collapse of the discussions about extending the stay of any U.S. troops beyond 2011, where they would not be granted any immunity from the Iraqi government, on 21 October 2011, President Obama announced at a White House press conference that all remaining U.S. troops and trainers would leave Iraq by the end of the year as previously scheduled, bringing the U.S. mission in Iraq to an end. The last American soldier to die in Iraq before the withdrawal was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad on 14 November.
In November 2011, the U.S. Senate voted down a resolution to formally end the war by bringing its authorization by Congress to an end.
The last U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq on 18 December, although the US embassy and consulates continues to maintain a staff of more than 20,000 including US Marine Embassy Guards and between 4,000 and 5,000 private military contractors. The next day, Iraqi officials issued an arrest warrant for the Sunni Vice-President Tareq Al-Hashemi. He has been accused of involvement in assassinations and fled to the Kurdish part of Iraq. Hide
During 2008 and 2009, all non-U.S. foreign forces withdrew from Iraq. Withdrawal of all non-U.S. forces was complete by 31 July 2009. As of 1 January 2009, the Iraqi government became fully responsibl
... Moree, through its security ministries, for maintaining and providing security and rule of law for its populace. Furthermore, as of 28 June 2009, no foreign forces were stationed within any of Iraq's major cities. The United States decided after negotiations to cease combat operations, that is, patrolling, serving arrest warrants, route clearance, etc., within Iraq by 1 September 2010, and transition to a pure advise, train and assist role. The changing mission entailed major troop reductions; from 115,000 on 15 December 2009, to 50,000 by 1 September 2010, and to zero by 31 December 2011.
As a result of the evolution of Operation Iraqi Freedom, three major commands (Multi-National Force – Iraq, Multi-National Corps – Iraq and Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq) were merged on 1 January 2010. The streamlining reduced the total number of staff positions by 41%, and serves the new advise, train and assist role of the American forces under the U.S.–Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement. The reduced number of staff positions decreased the personnel requirements on the United States armed forces. This also meant that further space was created for the reconstitution of the U.S. military after the end of significant combat operations. (This reconstitution may include, for example, longer leave for many personnel, enhanced space for psychological counselling, equipment repair and maintenance, transport of enormous amounts of equipment, supplies, and materiel south to Kuwait and onward, reconsideration of requirements, etc.).
The new USF–I was claimed to be organized into three divisions, which as of January 2010 were actually four. United States Division – North takes over from the former MND–N, United States Division – Center takes over from United States Force – West and MND–Baghdad, amalgamated on 23 January 2010, and United States Division – South, takes over from the old MND–South. In December 2009/January 2010 when the transition occurred, the 34th Infantry Division was providing the headquarters of MND/USD South. On 3 February 2010, the 1st Infantry Division took command of USD–South (covering nine Governorates of Iraq, including Wasit Governorate and Babil Governorate) from the 34th Infantry Division. A number of Advise and Assist (A&A) Brigades were created to carry out the Advise and Assist mission. Advise and Assist brigades were 'standard combat brigades with a complement of forty-eight extra majors and colonels to serve as advisers to Iraqi troops.'
MNSTC–I became U.S. Forces – Iraq, Advising and Training, which was under a major general, double-hatted as Commander, NATO Training Mission – Iraq (NTM–I).
1 January 2009 – The U.S.–Iraq Status of Forces Agreement went into effect, and gave the Government of Iraq de jure responsibility of maintaining and providing security for all of its people. Approximately 150,000 foreign troops in Iraq.
28 June 2009 – Foreign forces were no longer stationed within any of Iraq's major cities. Proclaimed as a national holiday by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
31 July 2009 – The last large groups of non-U.S. foreign forces completed their withdrawal from Iraq.
1 January 2010 – The major commands Multi-National Force – Iraq, Multi-National Corps – Iraq and Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq merged into the unified command United States Forces – Iraq, reducing the total number of staff positions by 41%. Approximately 112,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.
7 March 2010 – Iraq held parliamentary elections, its second under its democratic constitution, and is seen as an important milestone for the young Iraqi political system; this leaves approximately 96,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.
1 September 2010 – American forces ceased all combat operations, i.e. patrolling, serving arrest warrants, route clearance, etc., and transitioned to a pure advise, train and assist role. Operation Iraqi Freedom is officially concluded Hide
The Valorous Unit Award may be awarded to units of the Armed Forces of the United States for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy of the United States; while engaged in military oper
... Moreations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or, while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. Hide
Streamer embroidered AL ANBAR PROVINCE 2003
25 Apr 03 - 18 Sep 03
DA GO 2009-11 / 2010-16 / 2013-15 / 20
In June 2004, under the auspices of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546 the Coalition transferred limited sovereignty to a caretaker government, whose first act was to begin the trial of S
... Moreaddam Hussein. The government began the process of moving towards elections, though the insurgency, and the lack of cohesion within the government itself, led to repeated delays.
Militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr used his grass-roots organization and Mahdi Militia of over a thousand armed men to take control of the streets of Baghdad. The CPA soon realized it had lost control and closed down his popular newspaper. This resulted in mass anti-American demonstrations. The CPA then attempted to arrest al-Sadr on murder charges. He defied the American military by taking refuge in the Holy City of Najaf.
Through the months of July and August, a series of skirmishes in and around Najaf culminated with the Imman Ali Mosque itself under siege, only to have a peace deal brokered by al-Sistani in late August. Al-Sadr then declared a national cease fire, and opened negotiations with the American and government forces. His militia was incorporated into the Iraqi security forces and al-Sadr is now a special envoy. This incident was the turning point in the failed American efforts to install Ahmed Chalabi as leader of the interim government. The CPA then put Iyad Allawi in power; ultimately he was only marginally more popular than Chalabi.
The Allawi government, with significant numbers of holdovers from the Coalition Provisional Authority, began to engage in attempts to secure control of the oil infrastructure, the source of Iraq's foreign currency, and control of the major cities of Iraq. The continuing insurgencies, poor state of the Iraqi Army, disorganized condition of police and security forces, as well as the lack of revenue hampered their efforts to assert control. In addition, both former Ba'athist elements and militant Shia groups engaged in sabotage, terrorism, open rebellion, and establishing their own security zones in all or part of a dozen cities. The Allawi government vowed to crush resistance, using U.S. troops, but at the same time negotiated with Muqtada al-Sadr.
Offensives and counteroffensives
Beginning 8 November, American and Iraqi forces invaded the militant stronghold of Fallujah in Operation Phantom Fury, killing and capturing many insurgents. Many rebels were thought to have fled the city before the invasion. U.S.-backed figures put insurgency losses at over 2,000. It was the bloodiest single battle for the U.S. in the war, with 92 Americans dead and several hundred wounded. A video showing the killing of at least one unarmed and wounded man by an American serviceman surfaced, throwing renewed doubt and outrage at the efficiency of the U.S. occupation. The Marine was later cleared of any wrongdoing because the Marines had been warned that the enemy would sometimes feign death and booby-trap bodies as a tactic to lure Marines to their deaths. November was the deadliest month of the occupation for coalition troops, surpassing April.
Another offensive was launched by insurgents during the month of November in Mosul. U.S. forces backed by peshmerga fighters launched a counteroffensive which resulted in the Battle of Mosul (2004). The fighting in Mosul occurred concurrently with the fighting in Fallujah and attributed to the high number of American casualties taken that month.
In December, 14 American soldiers were killed and over a hundred injured when an explosion struck an open-tent mess hall in Mosul, where President Bush had spent Thanksgiving with troops the year before. The explosion is believed to have come from a suicide bomber.
After a review of the military strategy in the end of 2004, then commanding general of the MNF-I, General George W. Casey, Jr. directed the Coalition forces to shift their focus from fighting insurgents to training Iraqis. At the time, the Iraqi insurgency was mainly directed against the occupation and it was believed that if the Coalition would reduce its presence then the insurgency would diminish. Military planners hoped that national elections would change the perception of being under occupation, stabilize the situation and allow the Coalition to reduce its presence.
Iraqi elections and aftermath
Voters in the 2005 Iraqi legislative election
Main article: Iraqi legislative election, January 2005
On 30 January, an election for a government to draft a permanent constitution took place. Although some violence and lack of widespread Sunni Arab participation marred the event, most of the eligible Kurd and Shia populace participated. On 4 February, Paul Wolfowitz announced that 15,000 U.S. troops whose tours of duty had been extended in order to provide election security would be pulled out of Iraq by the next month. February, March and April proved to be relatively peaceful months compared to the carnage of November and January, with insurgent attacks averaging 30 a day from the average 70.
Hopes for a quick end to an insurgency and a withdrawal of U.S. troops were dashed at the advent of May, Iraq's bloodiest month since the invasion of U.S. forces in March and April 2003. Suicide bombers, believed to be mainly disheartened Iraqi Sunni Arabs, Syrians and Saudis, tore through Iraq. Their targets were often Shia gatherings or civilian concentrations mainly of Shias. As a result, over 700 Iraqi civilians died in that month, as well as 79 U.S. soldiers.
A large weapons cache in New Ubaydi is destroyed
During early and mid-May, the U.S. also launched Operation Matador, an assault by around 1,000 Marines in the ungoverned region of western Iraq. Its goal was the closing of suspected insurgent supply routes of volunteers and material from Syria, and with the fight they received their assumption proved correct. Fighters armed with flak jackets (unseen in the insurgency by this time) and sporting sophisticated tactics met the Marines, eventually inflicting 30 U.S. casualties by the operation's end, and suffering 125 casualties themselves.
The Marines succeeded, recapturing the whole region and even fighting insurgents all the way to the Syrian border, where they were forced to stop (Syrian residents living near the border heard the American bombs very clearly during the operation). The vast majority of these armed and trained insurgents quickly dispersed before the U.S. could bring the full force of its firepower on them, as it did in Fallujah.
Announcements and renewed fighting
On 14 August 2005 the Washington Post quoted one anonymous U.S. senior official expressing that "the United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges... 'What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground'".
On 22 September 2005, Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, said he had warned the Bush administration that Iraq was hurtling toward disintegration, and that the election planned for December was unlikely to make any difference. U.S. officials immediately made statements rejecting this view.
Constitutional ratification and elections
The National Assembly elected in January had drafted a new constitution to be ratified in a national referendum on 15 October 2005. For ratification, the constitution required a majority of national vote, and could be blocked by a two thirds "no" vote in each of at least three of the 18 governorates. In the actual vote, 79% of the voters voted in favor, and there was a two thirds "no" vote in only two governorates, both predominantly Sunni. The new Constitution of Iraq was ratified and took effect. Sunni turnout was substantially heavier than for the January elections, but insufficient to block ratification.
Elections for a new Iraqi National Assembly were held under the new constitution on 15 December 2005. This election used a proportional system, with approximately 25% of the seats required to be filled by women. After the election, a coalition government was formed under the leadership of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, with Jalal Talabani as president. Hide
Upon assuming the post of chief executive of the CPA in May 2003, L. Paul Bremer also assumed the title of U.S. Presidential Envoy and Administrator in Iraq. He was frequently called Ambassador by num
... Moreerous media organizations and the White House because it was the highest government rank he had achieved (Ambassador to Netherlands). However, Bremer was not ambassador to Iraq, and there was no U.S. diplomatic mission in Iraq at that time.
The CPA was created and funded as a division of the United States Department of Defense, and as Administrator, Bremer reported directly to the Secretary of Defense. Although troops from several of the coalition countries were present in Iraq at this time, the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) was the primary military apparatus charged with providing direct combat support to the CPA to enforce its authority during the occupation of Iraq.
While many of Saddam Hussein's ornate palaces were looted in the days immediately following the invasion, most of the physical structures themselves survived, relatively intact. It is in these numerous palaces situated throughout the country that the CPA chose to set up office in order to govern. Several of these palaces were retained by the U.S. Government even after the transition of power back to the Iraqi people. The administration was centred in a district of Baghdad, known as the Green Zone, which eventually became a highly secure walled-off enclave.
The CPA was also responsible for administering the Development Fund for Iraq during the year following the invasion. This fund superseded the earlier UN oil-for-food program, and provided funding for Iraq's wheat purchase program, the currency exchange program, the electricity and oil infrastructure programs, equipment for Iraq's security forces, Iraqi civil service salaries, and the operations of the various government ministries.
The first act of the CPA under Bremer was to issue order of de-Ba'athification of Iraqi society. On 23 May, CPA Order Number 2 formally disbanded the Iraqi army On 22 July 2003, the CPA formed the Iraqi Governing Council and appointed its members. The Council membership consisted largely of Iraqi expatriates who had previously fled the country during the rule of Saddam Hussein and also with many outspoken dissidents who had been persecuted by the former regime.
Though still subordinate to the CPA, the Iraqi Governing Council had several key responsibilities of its own. Its duties included appointing representatives to the United Nations, appointing interim ministers to Iraq's vacant cabinet positions, and drafting a temporary constitution known as the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL), which would be used to govern Iraq until a permanent constitution could be written and approved by the general electorate.
In the late afternoon of 14 December 2003, the CPA held a press conference at the Iraqi Forum convention center within Baghdad's Green Zone to announce that former President of Iraq Saddam Hussein had been taken into custody the previous night from a foxhole in a town near Saddam's home town of Tikrit, Iraq. Present at the announcement was Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez of the U.S. Army, Administrator Bremer, members of the British and American intelligence agencies, several members of the Iraqi Governing Council, and a large room full of journalists representing news organizations from around the world.
In order to defeat possible insurgent planning, the CPA transferred power to the newly appointed Iraqi Interim Government at 10:26 AM local time on 28 June 2004. With the CPA disbanded, Bremer left Iraq that same day.
The United States hoped that Iraq could be reconstructed and democratized in much the same way as Japan and Germany were after the Second World War, using them as "examples or even models of successful military occupations."
Fall of Saddam Hussein's regime
Statue of Saddam Hussein being toppled in Baghdad's Firdos Square on 9 April 2003.
On 1 May 2003, President Bush declared the "end of major combat operations" in Iraq, while aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln with a large "Mission Accomplished" banner displayed behind him.
The weeks following the removal of the Saddam Hussein regime were portrayed by American media as generally a euphoric time among the Iraqi populace. New York Post correspondent Jonathan Foreman, reporting from Baghdad in May 2003, wrote that looting was less widespread than reported, and that "the intensity of the population's pro-American enthusiasm is astonishing". There were widespread reports of looting, though much of the looting was directed at former government buildings and other remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime.
There were reports of looting of Iraq's archaeological treasures, mostly from the National Museum of Iraq; up to an alleged 170,000 items, worth billions of U.S. dollars: these reports were later revealed to be vastly exaggerated. Cities, especially Baghdad, suffered through reductions in electricity, clean water and telephone service from pre-war levels, with shortages that continued through at least the next year.
Canal Hotel Bombing
In the summer of 2003, the U.S. military focused on hunting down the remaining leaders of the former regime, culminating in the killing of Saddam's sons Uday Hussein and Qusay Hussein on 22 July. In all, over 200 top leaders of the former regime were killed or captured, as well as numerous lesser functionaries and military personnel.
However, even as the Ba'ath party organization disintegrated, elements of the secret police and army began forming guerilla units, since in many cases they had simply gone home rather than openly fight the invading forces. These began to focus their attacks around Mosul, Tikrit and Fallujah. In the fall, these units and other elements who called themselves Jihadists began using ambush tactics, suicide bombings, and improvised explosive devices, targeting coalition forces and checkpoints.
They favored attacking the unarmored Humvee vehicles, and in November they successfully attacked U.S. rotary aircraft with SA-7 missiles bought on the global black market. On 19 August, the UN Headquarters in Baghdad was destroyed in the Canal Hotel Bombing, killing at least 22 people, among them Sérgio Vieira de Mello, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General.
Saddam captured and elections urged
Saddam Hussein shortly after capture by American forces, and after being shaved to confirm his identity
In December 2003, Saddam himself was captured. The provisional government began training a security force intended to defend critical infrastructure, and the U.S. promised over $20 billion in reconstruction aid in the form of credits against Iraq's future oil revenues. At the same time, elements left out of the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance (IPA) began to agitate for elections. Most prominent among these was Ali al-Sistani, Grand Ayatollah in the Shia sect of Islam.
The United States and the Coalition Provisional Authority, run by Jay Garner and three deputies, including Tim Cross, opposed allowing democratic elections at this time, preferring instead to eventually hand over power to an unelected group of Iraqis. More insurgents stepped up their activities. The two most turbulent centers were the area around Fallujah and the poor Shia sections of cities from Baghdad to Basra in the south.
In the spring, the United States and the Coalition Provisional Authority decided to confront the rebels with a pair of assaults: one on Fallujah, the center of the "Mohammed's Army of Al-Ansar", and another on Najaf, home of an important mosque, which had become the focal point for the Mahdi Army and its activities. In Fallujah four private security contractors, working for Blackwater USA, were ambushed and killed, and their corpses desecrated. In retaliation a U.S. offensive was begun, but it was soon halted because of the protests by the Iraqi Governing Council and negative media coverage.
A truce was negotiated that put a former Ba'athist general in complete charge of the town. The 1st Armored Division along with the 2nd ACR were then shifted south, because Spanish, Salvadoran, Ukrainian, and Polish forces were having increasing difficulties retaining control over Al Kut, and Najaf. The 1st Armored Division and 2nd ACR relieved the Spaniards, Salvadoran, Poles, and put down the overt rebellion.
At the same time, British forces in Basra were faced with increasing restiveness, and became more selective in the areas they patrolled. In all, April, May and early June represented the bloodiest months of fighting since the end of hostilities. The Iraqi troops who were left in charge of Fallujah after the truce began to disperse and the city fell back under insurgent control.
In the April battle for Fallujah, U.S. troops killed about 200 resistance fighters, while 40 Americans died and hundreds were wounded in a fierce battle. U.S. forces then turned their attention to the al Mahdi Army in Najaf. A large convoy of US Army supply trucks manned by civilian contractors was ambushed and suffered significant damage and casualties. Hide
The 2003 invasion of Iraq lasted from 19 March to 1 May 2003 and signaled the start of the conflict that later came to be known as the Iraq War, which was dubbed Operation Iraqi Freedom by the United
... MoreStates (prior to 19 March, the mission in Iraq was called Operation Enduring Freedom, a carryover from the conflict in Afghanistan). The invasion consisted of 21 days of major combat operations, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and deposed the Ba'athist government of Saddam Hussein. The invasion phase consisted primarily of a conventionally fought war which concluded with the capture of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad by American forces.
Four countries participated with troops during the initial invasion phase, which lasted from 19 March to 9 April 2003. These were the United States (148,000), United Kingdom (45,000), Australia (2,000), and Poland (194). 36 other countries were involved in its aftermath. In preparation for the invasion, 100,000 U.S. troops were assembled in Kuwait by 18 February. The coalition forces also received support from Kurdish irregulars in Iraqi Kurdistan.
According to U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the coalition mission was "to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people." General Wesley Clark, the former Supreme NATO Allied Commander and Joint Chiefs of Staff Director of Strategy and Policy, describes in his 2003 book, Winning Modern Wars, his conversation with a military officer in the Pentagon shortly after 9/11 regarding a plan to attack seven Middle Eastern countries in five years: "As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan." Others place a much greater emphasis on the impact of the 11 September 2001 attacks, and the role this played in changing U.S. strategic calculations, and the rise of the freedom agenda. According to Blair, the trigger was Iraq's failure to take a "final opportunity" to disarm itself of alleged nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons that U.S. and British officials called an immediate and intolerable threat to world peace.
In a January 2003 CBS poll, 64% of Americans had approved of military action against Iraq; however, 63% wanted Bush to find a diplomatic solution rather than go to war, and 62% believed the threat of terrorism directed against the U.S. would increase due to war. The invasion of Iraq was strongly opposed by some long-standing U.S. allies, including the governments of France, Germany, and New Zealand. Their leaders argued that there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that invading the country was not justified in the context of UNMOVIC's 12 February 2003 report. On 15 February 2003, a month before the invasion, there were worldwide protests against the Iraq War, including a rally of three million people in Rome, which is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest ever anti-war rally. According to the French academic Dominique Reynié, between 3 January and 12 April 2003, 36 million people across the globe took part in almost 3,000 protests against the Iraq war.
The invasion was preceded by an air strike on the Presidential Palace in Baghdad on 19 March 2003. The following day, coalition forces launched an incursion into Basra Province from their massing point close to the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border. While the special forces launched an amphibious assault from the Persian Gulf to secure Basra and the surrounding petroleum fields, the main invasion army moved into southern Iraq, occupying the region and engaging in the Battle of Nasiriyah on 23 March. Massive air strikes across the country and against Iraqi command and control threw the defending army into chaos and prevented an effective resistance. On 26 March, the 173rd Airborne Brigade was airdropped near the northern city of Kirkuk, where they joined forces with Kurdish rebels and fought several actions against the Iraqi army to secure the northern part of the country.
The main body of coalition forces continued their drive into the heart of Iraq and met with little resistance. Most of the Iraqi military was quickly defeated and Baghdad was occupied on 9 April. Other operations occurred against pockets of the Iraqi army including the capture and occupation of Kirkuk on 10 April, and the attack and capture of Tikrit on 15 April. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the central leadership went into hiding as the coalition forces completed the occupation of the country. On 1 May, an end of major combat operations was declared, ending the invasion period and beginning the military occupation period. Hide
While several operations occurred in the geographical areas described above between April 12, 1991, and November 30, 1995, including Operation Provide Comfort (June 1, 1992 – November 30, 1995),
... More Operation Southern Watch (August 27, 1992 – April 29, 2003) and Operation Vigilant Warrior (October 14, 1994 – December 21, 1994), these operations were covered under the third campaign, Southwest Asia Cease-Fire. Service in Operations that extended beyond the final campaign date of November 30, 1995 were recognized by awards of either the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal or the Armed Forces Service Medal. Thus, the maximum number of bronze service stars that are authorized to be worn for the Southwest Asia Service Medal's ribbon or streamer is three. Hide
The Liberation of Kuwait was the campaign to retake Kuwait from Iraq after the massive air campaign, between 24–28 February 1991. U.S. troops and the Coalition entered to find the Iraqis surrend
... Moreering en masse; however, pockets of resistance existed, particularly at Kuwait International Airport where Iraqi troops, seemingly unaware that a retreat order had been issued to them, continued to fight, resulting in a fierce battle over the airport itself. The majority of the fighting took place in Iraq, rather than Kuwait. Hide
(Ardennes Alsace Campaign 16 December 1944 to 25 January 1945) During their offensive in the Ardennes the Germans drove into Belgium and Luxembourg, creating a great bulge in the line. For some time
... Morethe weather was bad, but when it cleared the Allies could send their planes to assist their ground forces by bombing and strafing the enemy’s columns, dropping paratroops and supplies, and interdicting the enemy’s lines of communications. By the end of January 1945 the lost ground had been regained and the Battle of the Bulge, the last great German offensive, was over. Hide
(Rhineland Campaign 15 September 1944 to 21 March 1945) Attempting to outflank the Siegfried Line, the Allies tried an airborne attack on Holland on 17 September 1944. But the operation failed, and th
... Moree enemy was able to strengthen his defensive line from Holland to Switzerland. Little progress was made on the ground, but the aerial attacks on strategic targets continued. Then, having regained the initiative after defeating a German offensive in the Ardennes in December 1944, the Allies drove through to the Rhine, establishing a bridgehead across the river at Remagen. Hide
(Central Europe Campaign 22 March to 11 May 1945) Following the Battle of the Bulge the Allies had pushed through to the Rhine. On 22 March 1945 they began their assault across the river, and by I Apr
... Moreil the Ruhr was encircled. Armored columns raced across Germany and into Austria and Czechoslovakia. On 25 April, the day American and Russian forces met on the Elbe, strategic bombing operations came to an end. Germany surrendered on 7 May 1945 and operations officially came to an end the following day, although sporadic actions continued on the European front until 11 May. Hide
(Northern France Campaign 25 July to 14 September 1944) Bombardment along a five-mile stretch of the German line enabled the Allies to break through on 25 July. While some armored forces drove southwa
... Morerd into Brittany, others fanned out to the east and, overcoming a desperate counterattack, executed a pincers movement that trapped many Germans in a pocket at Falaise. The enemy fell back on the Siegfried Line, and by mid-September 1944 nearly all of France had been liberated. During these operations in France, while light and medium bombers and fighter-bomber aircraft of Ninth Air Force had been engaged in close support and interdictory operations, Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces had continued their strategic bombing. Hide