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Introduction

The 2003 invasion of Iraq lasted from 19 March 2003 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 States (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,Poland and Spain invaded Iraq and deposed the Bathist government of Saaddam 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." Former chief counter-terrorism adviser on the National Security Council Richard A. Clarke believes Bush took office with a predetermined plan to invade Iraq. 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 2005, the Central Intelligence Agency released a report saying that no weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq. 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 antiwarrally. According to the French academic Dominique Reyni, 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. As of December 2011, the 2003 invasion of Iraq was the most recent armed conflict between standing national armies causing at least 1,000 battle deaths.

Prelude to the invasion


The first Gulf war ended on 28 February 1991, with a cease-fire negotiated between the UN Coalition and Iraq. The U.S. and its allies tried to keep Saddam in check with military actions such as Operation Southern Watch, which was conducted by Joint Task Force Southwest

Asia (JTF-SWA) with the mission of monitoring and controlling airspace south of the 32nd Parallel (extended to the33rd Parallel in 1996) as well as using economic sanctions. It was revealed that a biological weapons (BW) program in Iraq had begun in the early 1980s with help from the U.S. and Europe in violation of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) of 1972. Details of the BW program-along with a chemical weapons program-surfaced in the wake of the Gulf War (199091) following investigations conducted by the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) which had been charged with the post-war disarmament of Saddam's Iraq. The investigation concluded that there was no evidence the program had continued after the war. The U.S. and its allies then maintained a policy of "containment" towards Iraq. This policy involved numerous economic sanctions by the UN Security Council; the enforcement of Iraqi no-fly zones declared by the U.S. and the UK to protect the Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan and Shias in the south from aerial attacks by the Iraqi government; and ongoing inspections. Iraqi military helicopters and planes regularly contested the no-fly zones. In October 1998, removing the Hussein regime became official U.S. foreign policy with enactment of the Iraq Liberation Act. Enacted following the expulsion of UN weapons inspectors the preceding August (after some had been accused of spying for the U.S.), the act provided $97 million for Iraqi "democratic opposition organizations" to "establish a program to support a transition to democracy in Iraq." This legislation contrasted with the terms set out in United Nations Security Council Resolution 687, which focused on weapons and weapons programs and made no mention of regime change. One month after the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act, the U.S. and UK launched a bombardment campaign of Iraq called Operation Desert Fox. The campaigns express rationale was to hamper Saddam Hussein's government's ability to produce chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, but U.S. intelligence personnel also hoped it would help weaken Husseins grip on power. With the election of George W. Bush as president in 2000, the U.S. moved towards a more aggressive policy toward Iraq. The Republican Party's campaign platform in the 2000 election called for "full implementation" of the Iraq Liberation Act as "a starting point" in a plan to "remove" Hussein. After leaving the George W. Bush administration, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said that an attack on Iraq had been planned since Bush's inauguration, and that the first United States National Security Council meeting involved discussion of an invasion. O'Neill later backtracked, saying that these discussions were part of a continuation of foreign policy first put into place by the Clinton administration. Despite the Bush administration's stated interest in liberating Iraq, little formal movement towards an invasion occurred until the 11 September 2001 attacks. For example, the administration prepared Operation Desert Badger to respond aggressively if any Air Force pilot

was shot down while flying over Iraq, but this did not happen. Rumsfeld dismissed National Security Agency (NSA) intercept data available by midday of the 11th that pointed to al-Qaeda's culpability, and by mid-afternoon ordered the Pentagon to prepare plans for attacking Iraq. According to aides who were with him in the National Military Command Center on that day, Rumsfeld asked for: "best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit Saddam Hussein at same time. Not only Osama bin Laden." A memo written by Rumsfeld in November 2001 considers an Iraq war. The rationale for invading Iraq as a response to 9/11 has been widely questioned, as there was no cooperation between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. Shortly after 11 September 2001 (on 20 September), Bush addressed a joint session of Congress (simulcast live to the world), and announced his new "War on Terror". This announcement was accompanied by the doctrine of "pre-emptive" military action, later termed the Bush Doctrine. Allegations of a connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda were made by some U.S. Government officials who asserted that a highly secretive relationship existed between Saddam and the radical Islamist militant organization al-Qaeda from 1992 to 2003, specifically through a series of meetings reportedly involving the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS). Some Bush advisers favored an immediate invasion of Iraq, while others advocated building an international coalition and obtaining United Nations authorization. Bush eventually decided to seek UN authorization, while still reserving the option of invading without it. The U.S.-led Coalition forces toppled the government and captured the key cities of a large nation in only 21 days. The invasion did require a large army build-up like the 1991 Gulf War, but many did not see combat and many were withdrawn after the invasion ended. This proved to be short-sighted, however, due to the requirement for a much larger force to combat the irregular Iraqi forces in the aftermath of the war. General Eric Shinseki, U.S. Army Chief of Staff, recommended "several hundred thousand" troops be used to maintain post-war order, but then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeldand especially his deputy, civilian Paul Wolfowitzstrongly disagreed. General Abizaid later said General Shinseki had been right.

Conclusion
The Iraqi army, armed mainly with Soviet-built equipment, was overall ill-equipped in comparison to the American and British forces. Attacks on U.S. supply routes by Fedayeen militiamen were repulsed. The Iraqis' artillery proved largely ineffective, and they were unable to mobilize their air force to attempt a defense. The Iraqi T-72 tanks, the most powerful armored

vehicles in the Iraqi army, were both outdated and ill-maintained, and when they were mobilized they were rapidly destroyed, thanks in part to the Coalition air supremacy. The U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and Naval Aviation, and British Royal Air Force operated with impunity throughout the country, pinpointing heavily defended resistance targets and destroying them before ground troops arrived. The main battle tanks of the U.S. and UK forces, the U.S. M1 Abrams and British Challenger 2, functioned well in the rapid advance across the country. Despite the many RPG attacks by irregular Iraqi forces, few U.S. and UK tanks were lost, and no tank crew-members were killed by hostile fire. The only tank loss sustained by the British Army was a Challenger 2 of the Queen's Royal Lancers that was hit by another Challenger 2, killing two crew members.The Iraqi army suffered from poor morale, even amongst the elite Republican Guard. Entire units disbanded into the crowds upon the approach of invading troops, or actually sought out U.S. and UK forces to surrender to. Many Iraqi commanding officers were bribed by the CIA or coerced into surrendering. The leadership of the Iraqi army was incompetent reports state that Qusay Hussein, charged with the defense of Baghdad, dramatically shifted the positions of the two main divisions protecting Baghdad several times in the days before the arrival of U.S. forces, and as a result the units were confused, and further demoralized when U.S. forces attacked. The invasion force did not see the entire Iraqi military thrown against it; U.S. and UK units had orders to move to and seize objective target points rather than seek to engage Iraqi units. This resulted in most regular Iraqi military units emerging from the war without having been engaged, and fully intact, especially in southern Iraq.