Operation Iraqi Freedom

By J.D. Carruthers

The unresolved issue of chemical weapons unaccounted for following the First Persian Gulf War of 1991 prompted President George W. Bush on March 17, 2003 to deliver an ultimatum to Saddam Hussein and his two sons Uday and Qusay that they much leave Iraq within 48 hours so that Iraqi disarmament could continue.[1] When Hussein ignored the ultimatum, Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched on March 20, 2003.[2]

The war began with a bombing campaign designed to decapitate the Iraqi command structure and to intimidate the regime with overwhelming “shock and awe.”[3] The air campaign was accompanied by a ground invasion launched from Kuwait which quickly drove into the heart of Baghdad and sent Saddam Hussein and his sons into hiding. Resistance from the Ba’athist regime and the Iraqi Republican Guard collapsed quickly, and on May 2, 2003 during a visit on board the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, President Bush announced the end of major combat operations.[4]

With the escape of Saddam Hussein and his sons Uday and Qusay the war entered a new phase characterized by an intense search for the fugitives and a growing conflict of insurgency directed at allied forces. The Hussein brothers were cornered in a private residence in Mosul Iraq on July 22, 2003. A four hour long intense firefight ensued during which both Hussein brothers were killed.[5] Saddam Hussein managed to elude capture until late that year when informants provided information that the dictator was hiding near his hometown of Tikrit. On December 13, 2003 US Army troops launched Operation Red Dawn, and found Saddam Hussein hiding in an underground “spider hole.”[6] On October 19, 2005, Saddam Hussein and several other codefendants were brought to trial before the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal formed by the Iraqi Governing Council and charged with crimes against humanity.[7] Hussein was convicted and sentenced to death, and hanged on December 30, 2006.[8]

The deaths of Saddam Hussein and his two sons and the fall of the Ba’athist regime did not resolved the conflict in Iraq. The insurgency movement and sectarian warfare continued to expand and intensify with set piece battles within the Sunni Triangle of Fallujah, Baghdad, and Tikrit.[9] However, much of the violence involved asymmetrical attacks with improvised explosive devices or IEDs, and suicide attacks using car bombs targeting both civilians and military personnel. By 2006 the situation in Iraq had deteriorated to the point where on January 10, 2007 President Bush dramatically shifted U.S. strategy in Iraq by deploying an additional 30,000 troops in a troop surge designed to resolve the insurgency.[10] The United States remained committed to combat operations in Iraq at the end of the Bush presidency in January 2009, and President Barack Obama brought the US mission in Iraq to a conclusion on December 21, 2011.[11]

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vr7OKqqTb_o
[2] http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/03/19/sprj.irq.main/
[3] http://www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=2067 ; http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/03/21/sprj.irq.aday/
[4] http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/05/01/sprj.irq.bush.speech/index.html
[5] http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=28686 ; http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/952504/posts
[6] http://www.army.mil/article/116559/Operation_RED_DAWN_nets_Saddam_Hussein/ ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rD9v38aSSu4
[7] http://www.loc.gov/law/help/hussein/tribunal.php ; http://www.loc.gov/law/help/hussein/present.php
[8] http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/12/29/hussein/index.html?eref=yahoo
[9] http://media.usip.org/reports/iraq_study_group_report.pdf
[10] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/thegamble/timeline/
[11] https://www.whitehouse.gov/iraq

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