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Part of the War on Terror
Iraq War montage.png
Clockwise from top: Delta Force of Task Force 20 alongside troops of 3rd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, at Uday
Hussain and Qusay Hussein's hideout.; Insurgents in northern Iraq; an Iraqi insurgent firing a MANPADS; the toppling of
the Saddam Hussein statue in Firdos Square.
Date 20 March 2003 – 15 December 2011
(8 years, 8 months, 3 weeks and 4 days)
Invasion and occupation of Iraq
Overthrow of Ba'ath Party government and execution of Saddam Hussein
Insurgency, foreign terrorist operations, and sectarian violence
Subsequent depletion of Iraqi insurgency, improvements in public security
Establishment of democratic elections and formation of new government
U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement
Withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq
Prior to the war, the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom claimed that Iraq's alleged possession of
weapons of mass destruction (WMD) posed a threat to their security and that of their coalition/regional allies.
In 2002, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1441 which called for Iraq to completely cooperate with
UN weapon inspectors to verify that Iraq was not in possession of WMD and cruise missiles. Prior to the attack, the
United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) found no evidence of WMD, but could not
yet verify the accuracy of Iraq's declarations regarding what weapons it possessed, as their work was still unfinished.
The leader of the inspectors, Hans Blix, estimated the time remaining for disarmament being verified through inspections
to be "months".
After investigation following the invasion, the U.S.‑led Iraq Survey Group concluded that Iraq had ended its nuclear,
chemical and biological programs in 1991 and had no active programs at the time of the invasion, but that they intended
to resume production if the Iraq sanctions were lifted. Although some degraded remnants of misplaced or
abandoned chemical weapons from before 1991 were found, they were not the weapons which had been one of the
main arguments for the invasion. Paul R. Pillar, the CIA official who coordinated U.S. intelligence on the Middle East
from 2000 to 2005, said "If prewar intelligence assessments had said the same things as the Duelfer report, the
administration would have had to change a few lines in its rhetoric and maybe would have lost a few member's votes in
Congress, but otherwise the sales campaign—which was much more about Saddam's intentions and what he "could" do
than about extant weapons systems—would have been unchanged. The administration still would have gotten its war.
Even Dick Cheney later cited the actual Duelfer report as support for the administration's pro-war case." George J.
Tenet, the former director of central intelligence, stated Vice President Dick Cheney and other Bush administration
officials pushed the country to war in Iraq without ever conducting a "serious debate" about whether Saddam Hussein
posed an imminent threat to the United States.
Some U.S. officials also accused Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of harboring and supporting al-Qaeda, but no
evidence of a meaningful connection was ever found. Other stated reasons for the invasion included Iraq's
financial support for the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, Iraqi government human rights abuses, and an
effort to spread democracy to the country.
On 16 March 2003, the U.S. government advised the U.N. inspectors to leave their unfinished work and exit from Iraq.
 On 20 March the American-led coalition conducted a surprise military invasion of Iraq without declaring war.
 The invasion led to an occupation and the eventual capture of President Hussein, who was later tried in an Iraqi
court of law and executed by the new Iraqi government. Violence against coalition forces and among various sectarian
groups soon led to the Iraqi insurgency, strife between many Sunni and Shia Iraqi groups, and the emergence of a new
faction of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
In June 2008, U.S. Department of Defense officials claimed security and economic indicators began to show signs of
improvement in what they hailed as significant and fragile gains. Iraq was fifth on the 2008 Failed States Index,
and sixth on the 2009 list. As public opinion favoring troop withdrawals increased and as Iraqi forces began to take
responsibility for security, member nations of the Coalition withdrew their forces. In late 2008, the U.S. and Iraqi
governments approved a Status of Forces Agreement effective through 1 January 2012. The Iraqi Parliament also
ratified a Strategic Framework Agreement with the U.S., aimed at ensuring cooperation in constitutional rights, threat
deterrence, education, energy development, and other areas.
In late February 2009, newly elected U.S. President Barack Obama announced an 18-month withdrawal window for
combat forces, with approximately 50,000 troops remaining in the country "to advise and train Iraqi security forces and to
provide intelligence and surveillance". UK forces ended combat operations on 30 April 2009. Iraqi Prime
Minister Nouri al‑Maliki said he supported the accelerated pullout of U.S. forces. In a speech at the Oval Office on 31
August 2010 Obama declared "the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and
the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country." Beginning 1 September 2010,
the American operational name for its involvement in Iraq changed from "Operation Iraqi Freedom" to "Operation New
Dawn". The remaining 50,000 U.S. troops were designated as "advise and assist brigades" assigned to non-combat
operations while retaining the ability to revert to combat operations as necessary. Two combat aviation brigades also
remain in Iraq. In September 2010, the Associated Press issued an internal memo reminding its reporters that
"combat in Iraq is not over", and "U.S. troops remain involved in combat operations alongside Iraqi forces, although U.S.
officials say the American combat mission has formally ended".
On 21 October 2011, President Obama announced that all U.S. troops and trainers would leave Iraq by the end of the
year, bringing the U.S. mission in Iraq to an end. On 15 December 2011, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta
officially declared the Iraq War over, at a flag lowering ceremony in Baghdad. The last U.S. troops left Iraqi territory
on 18 December 2011 at 4:27 UTC.
Since the U.S. military's withdrawal, significant violence has continued in Iraq, as Sunni militant groups have stepped
up attacks targeting the country's majority Shia population to undermine confidence in the Shia-led government and its
efforts to protect people without American backup.
The Korean War
The Cold War between the Communists and the Western Worlds began in earnest at the end of
World War II. In order to maintain political prestige among the uncommitted nations of the world,
neither side could allow the other any advantage or concession. The Soviets tried to blockade
Berlin, and the West answered with the Berlin Airlift (1947-49). In Korea, the armies of both the
U.S. and USSR withdrew, but each side armed their respective section of the country. The North
Koreans clamored for unification and fomented several armed uprisings in the South in the late
1940s. However, South Korea did not collapse, but grew stronger. This may be why North Korea
launched a massive surprise attack against the South on June 25, 1950.
The first year of the Korean War was an incredible seesaw: Seoul (in the middle of the peninsula)
changed hands four times. The remaining two years of the war became a brutal bashing of both
sides along a heavily defended battle line, whose location changed only slightly from month to
month. The final cease-fire line showed no significant gain for either side.
A sequence of 27 maps adapted from the West Point Atlas of American Wars has been assembled
here to vividly show the dynamics of battle. The sequence may be viewed as a QuickTime movie.
In brief, the Korean War began with the invasion of the South by North Korean troops. Troops in
the South were unprepared and were pushed into a small corner of South Korea in a matter of
weeks. The situation was quickly reversed by the first United Nations (UN) offensive in the
southeast, coupled with a daring high-tide landing at Inchon near Seoul. The landing forces quickly
cut the North Korean supply lines, forcing the now unsupported North Korean armies to flee back
The UN armies pressed north of the 38th parallel with the intent to take over North Korea, and the
disorganized North Korean army was unable to stop them. A few UN units actually pressed north to
the Amnok (Yalu) River, the border between Communist China and Korea. The Chinese warned
that they would not accept the conquest of North Korea by the UN and massed for a counter
attack. Though less well armed than the UN armies, the Chinese armies were much larger and
quickly overwhelmed the UN forces. Some 40,000 U.S. troops were cut off by the advance and
evacuated from near Wonsan in mid-December 1950. Seoul was retaken by the Chinese as they
pushed south. This time, the Communist forces were stopped about two-thirds of the way down the
peninsula. A second UN offensive began in late February 1951, which pushed the Chinese back
north of Seoul again. The UN advance stopped near the 38th parallel. A second Chinese offensive
was launched in April. Once again, huge waves of Chinese soldiers cut off and destroyed advance
Image of a war memorial commemorating the complete loss of a valiant unit of British soldiers.This
time the Chinese armies stopped north of Seoul. A third UN offensive in May and June of 1951
pushed the Chinese back up near the thirty-eighth parallel again. For the next two years, the war
was fought mostly in the air as the battle line on the ground hardened into a massive defensive
network on both sides. Incursions on the ground by either side during this time could only be made
with great loss of men and little territorial gain. Battle on the ground in Korea was hampered by the
extremely rugged terrain. The picture below of an American tank crossing a stream in the central
Korean highland in the 1970s gives an idea of how hilly the terrain is and how difficult it was for
military maneuvering. Desperate battles in that terrain gave rise to gruesome nicknames for places
of bloody fighting like Pork Chop Hill, T-Bone Hill, and Heartbreak Ridge.
Image of an American M 60 A1 tank crossing a stream in the central mountains of Korea.The
Korean War finally ended in July 1953. Left in its wake were four million military and civilian
casualties, including 33,600 American, 16,000 UN allied, 415,000 South Korean, and 520,000
North Korean dead. There were also an estimated 900,000 Chinese casualties. Half of Korea's
industry was destroyed and a third of all homes. The disruption of civilian life was almost complete.
Try to imagine for a moment what life must have been like for civilians trying to avoid invading
armies during the first year of the war when battle lines shifted back and forth through the
countryside every few months. Each time opposing armies swept through an area, homes and
personal possessions would be damaged or destroyed by shelling or bombing, crops would be
trampled, livestock would be stolen for food, and civilians would be harmed by stray gunfire or
random violence by individual soldiers. If found, male civilians could be forcefully drafted to fight,
and anyone could be accused as being a supporter of the "other" side and then imprisoned or
The result of the Korean War was a stalemate, ending not far from where it began. Was the war a
loss for the UN and the United States? Many viewed it as such, even while the war was still being
fought. General Douglas MacArthur, World War II hero and commander of the UN forces in Korea,
wanted complete victory in Korea and advocated attacking bases inside Communist China that
were supporting forces in North Korea. But U.S. President Harry S. Truman and other leaders of
the UN forces feared that attacking China would lead to a larger conflict that could easily plunge
the entire world into World War III. These leaders felt that the human misery and political
humiliation associated with pursuing a limited war was preferable to the much greater loss and
doubtful outcome of a global war. As it was, Truman was President and Commander-in-Chief;
MacArthur was his subordinate. When MacArthur persisted in his opposition to Truman's political
and military objectives, Truman replaced MacArthur with a general willing to pursue a limited war.
The Korean War, the first shooting conflict of the Cold War, remained confined to the Korean
peninsula. The fact that it did not expand into a wider war helped confirm the West's policy of
containment of Communism, a policy which dominated most international relations during the Cold
War. Was containment a misguided policy? On the one hand, it prevented a major war. On the
other hand, it led to a seemingly endless string of small, bloody battles all over the world: Cuba,
Central Africa, South East Asia, Afghanistan, and many others. Containment also led to massive
infusions of economic and military aid by leading nations of both the Communist and Western
worlds into developing nations considered to be of strategic importance, while others were
bypassed. Repressive political regimes were supported in many poor nations in the name of
containment. The debate over containment continued through armed conflicts in the 1960s,
nuclear stalemate in the 1970s, and on into the present.
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