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Operations in Iraq: Lessons for the Future




6 Aug Following invasion of Kuwait, UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 661 imposes sanctions on Iraq, subsequently extended by further resolutions.

29 Nov UNSCR 678 authorises a coalition to use "all necessary means" to end the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait.


16 Jan-28 Feb Iraqi forces ejected from Kuwait by coalition forces in first Gulf conflict.

6 Apr Iraq accepts the cease-fire conditions in UNSCR 687, including a requirement to end all prohibited weapons programmes and to allow monitoring by the UN Special Commission inspection team (UNSCOM).

15 May First on-site inspections begin.


10 Aug UN "safe haven" is established in Northern Iraq for the protection of the Kurdish population.

26 Aug A no-fly zone is established over southern Iraq for the protection of the Shia Muslim population.


14 Apr Creation of Oil for Food Programme by UNSCR 986, allowing revenue from oil sales supervised by the UN to be used for the purchase of humanitarian goods.


16 Dec UNSCOM inspectors leave Iraq due to concern for safety of personnel and lack of Iraqi co-operation.

16-19 Dec Operation Desert Fox: airstrikes against Iraqi weapons facilities.


17 Dec UNMOVIC created as successor to UNSCOM. Iraq continues to prevent access by inspectors.


12 Sep President Bush addresses the UN General Assembly, saying Saddam Hussein has systematically and continually violated 16 UNSCRs over the past decade, and calls upon the UN to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction.

24 Sep British Government publishes comprehensive dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Prime Minister opens Parliamentary debate and acknowledges planning needs to take place.

8 Nov UN Security Council unanimously adopts UNSCR 1441, declaring Iraq to be in material breach of past UNSCRs, creating a tougher UN weapons inspection regime and offering Baghdad a last chance to comply fully, immediately and unconditionally with its disarmament obligations, with "serious consequences" to follow if it did not do so.

13 Nov Iraq indicates willingness to accept the return of weapons inspectors to the country under the terms of UNSCR 1441.

18 Nov US approaches a number of countries, seeking support in the event that military action proves necessary.

25 Nov House of Commons debate UNSCR 1441. Secretary of State for Defence announces that contingency planning is taking place for possible operations in Iraq.

27 Nov Inspections resume in Iraq.

7 Dec Iraq submits a 12,000 page declaration of its WMD programme to UN.

18 Dec Secretary of State for Defence announces further contingency preparations, including approaching the shipping market to charter vessels.

19 Dec Hans Blix's initial UNMOVIC report to the UN states that the Iraqi declaration falls some way short of what is required and may constitute a material breach. He subsequently says that the report contained no new information on the weapons programmes revealed by UNSCOM.

Jan 2003

7 Jan Secretary of State for Defence announces the making of a call-out Order and intent to call out 1500 reservists. Augmentation of the Naval Task Group 2003 with 3 Commando Brigade is announced.

16 Jan UNMOVIC discovers chemical weapon warheads in a relatively new bunker in Iraq.

20 Jan Composition of the land package announced.

27 Jan Drs Blix and El Baradei present a report on progress to UN Security Council, making clear the serious shortcomings in Iraq's cooperation with weapons inspections.

30 Jan Secretary of State for Defence announces further call out of reservists to overall total of up to 6000.

Feb 2003

6 Feb Secretary of State for Defence announces the composition of the air package to be sent to the Gulf. Colin Powell briefs the UN Security Council on Iraq's failure to comply with UNSCR 1441.

14 Feb Drs Blix and El Baradei present a further report on progress to UN Security Council.

27 Feb UK, US and Spain table a draft resolution at UN Security Council making clear that Iraq had failed under its obligations of UNSCR1441.

Mar 2003

7 Mar Further inspectors report to UN.

14 Mar France declares its intent to veto the draft resolution.

17 Mar Following the Azores Summit, the Foreign Secretary announces the abandonment of the UN process.

18 Mar President Bush issues an ultimatum for Saddam Hussein and sons to leave Iraq within 48 hours or be removed by force. House of Commons debate to authorise military action against Iraq: motion is passed by 412 votes to 149.  Formal decision to commit UK forces following debate. UNMOVIC/IAEA inspectors leave Iraq.


Combat Operations in Iraq


20 Mar Limited air strikes are launched on targets associated with the regime in Iraq. Ground campaign begins in the late evening with coalition forces including 40 and 42 Commando RM taking control of the Al Faw peninsula and US forces securing the Rumaylah oilfields.

21 Mar Major air campaign begins at 1800.

22 Mar US forces reach An Nasiriyah and secure several bridges over the Euphrates.

23 Mar Royal Navy vessels begin sweeping the Khawr Abd Allah waterway for mines, to enable the port of Umm Qasr to be opened to shipping.

24 Mar Basrah International airport under UK control.

25 Mar 40 Cdo engage Iraqi armoured brigade on Al Faw and destroy many Iraqi armoured vehicles.

26 Mar Coalition forces target and destroy Ba'ath Party HQ in Basrah.

27 Mar UK forces engage and destroy armoured vehicle convoy leaving Basrah.

28 Mar RFA Sir GALAHAD arrives in Umm Qasr with humanitarian aid.

30 Mar UK forces engage with enemy south of Basrah taking some high ranking POWs.

31 Mar A school reopens in Rumaylah, and markets and hospitals open in Az Zubayr.

Apr 2003

1 Apr UK forces begin patrolling in Az Zubayr in berets.

2 Apr US forces begin land engagement with Republican Guards around Baghdad.

4 Apr Baghdad International airport seized by US forces.

5 Apr US forces enter central Baghdad for the first time.

6 Apr UK troops enter and remain in Basrah encountering little opposition.

7 Apr Targeted bombing raid on building containing senior Iraqi leaders in Baghdad.

9 Apr Iraqi civilians tear down statue of Saddam Hussein in central Baghdad with the aid of US marines.

10 Apr Kirkuk falls to Kurdish forces.

11 Apr Commanders in Mosul sign a cease fire.

13 Apr Joint UK/Iraqi patrols begin in Basrah.

14 Apr US forces enter Tikrit.

15 Apr First conference on future of Iraq held in An Nasiriyah.

21 Apr Lt Gen. Jay Garner, head of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, arrives in Baghdad with an advance party.

22 Apr UK area of operations declared "permissive" by UN for humanitarian operations to commence.

May 2003

1 May President Bush declares major combat phase of operations over.


Post-Conflict Operations

May 2003

5 May First British ambassador to Iraq for 12 years arrives in Baghdad. In Mosul delegates from different ethnic groups elect an interim council with 24 members.

8 May Iraqi judicial system in Baghdad resumes under its pre-1969 legal code.

14 May Umm Qasr port is handed over to local council administration. A mass grave dating back to the post-1991 uprising is found at Al Hillah, south of Baghdad.

15 May Coalition Provisional Authority establishes the Development Fund for Iraq.

22 May UN Security Council adopts Resolution 1483, affirming Iraq's territorial integrity, ensuring rapid delivery of humanitarian relief, winding down the Oil for Food Programme, lifting sanctions and endorsing an appropriate post-conflict administration for Iraq. A ship chartered by the World Food Programme arrives in Umm Qasr with a load of 14,000 tons of rice for humanitarian distribution. Secretary of State for Defence announces the call out of a further 1500 reservists.

23 May Paul Bremer, US civil administrator of Iraq, orders the dissolution of the Iraqi Armed Forces, most of its security services and the entire military bureaucracy.

Jun 2003

8 Jun CPA introduces a trade liberalisation policy, suspending all tariffs and customs duties for goods and services entering or leaving Iraq until 31 December 2003.

9 Jun Coalition forces begin operations to identify and defeat selected Ba'ath Party loyalists, terrorist organisations and criminal elements.

12 Jun A Danish 450-strong infantry battalion, including a Lithuanian platoon, begins operating in the north of Basrah province.

15 Jun Umm Qasr port opens to commercial freight shipping.

17 Jun Ambassador Bremer opens a new Iraqi Judicial College and announces the creation of a Judicial Review Committee and the establishment of a Central Criminal Court.

22 Jun Oil exports resume from Iraq.

24 Jun In an incident in the town of Al Majar Al Kabir in the UK Area of Operations, six UK Royal Military Policemen are killed.

Jul 2003

2 Jul Interim Basrah Council is established.

7 Jul A 37-member Baghdad City Advisory Council is launched.

12 Jul HQ 3 (UK) Division formally takes control of the Multinational Division (South East). 1 (UK) Division begins departing theatre.

13 Jul Iraqi Governing Council formed.

15 Jul Italy takes control of Dhi Qar province from the US. Czech contingent of a company of Military Police and a Civil Military Co-operation Troop begins operations.

20 Jul Recruitment and training commences for the new Iraqi Army.

22 Jul Coalition forces in Mosul, during the course of a lengthy firefight, kill Uday and Qusay Hussein, sons of Saddam Hussein.

24 Jul Norwegian engineer company begins operations in Basrah province.

27 Jul A daily cargo and passenger train service begins from Umm Qasr to Mosul.

28 Jul Iraqi Governing Council elects a nine-member presidency.

Aug 2003

1 Aug A Dutch battlegroup deploys under command of MND(SE). A Romanian mechanised battalion and Military Police company deploy in support of the Italian brigade.

8 Aug Car bomb explodes outside the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad, causing significant civilian casualties.

19 Aug Explosion at the UN headquarters in Baghdad causes significant casualties, including the death of the UN Special Representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

21 Aug General Ali Hasan al-Majid al Tikriti 'Chemical Ali' is captured.

29 Aug Shia spiritual leader, Ayatollah Mohammed Bakr al Hakim, along with some 120 Shia worshippers, is killed by a car bomb outside a mosque in Najaf.

Sep 2003

3 Sep Iraqi Governing Council appoints 25 Ministers.

8 Sep Secretary of State for Defence announces the deployment of new UK forces and equipment to boost force levels by around 1000.

22 Sep Bomb explodes in a car park close to the UN HQ in Baghdad.

23 Sep Members of Iraqi Governing Council take up Iraq's seat at the UN General Assembly.

25 Sep Kofi Annan orders a further reduction of UN personnel in Iraq.

29 Sep King Abdullah II of Jordan announces that Jordan will train 30,000 Iraqi police and troops in a series of eight-week courses.

Oct 2003

2 Oct Dr David Kay briefs the committees of Congress and the Senate on the Iraq Survey Group's interim report.

10 Oct Service of Remembrance for operation held at St Paul's Cathedral.

12 Oct Attempted suicide bombing at Baghdad Hotel, Baghdad: Six Iraqis killed.

14 Oct Turkish Embassy in Baghdad is bombed: three Iraqis killed.

15 Oct New Iraqi dinar begins to replace the old currency.

16 Oct UN Security Council unanimously adopts Resolution 1551, outlining the role of the UN, the CPA and the Iraqi Governing Council in international efforts to bring peace and stability to Iraq.

23-24 Oct $33 billion is committed to the redevelopment of Iraq at the Madrid Donors' Conference.

26 Oct Attack on the Al-Rasheed hotel kills one US officer and seriously injures three, including an HM Treasury official. Deputy mayor of Baghdad is assassinated.

27 Oct Simultaneous attacks on the HQ of the International Committee for the Red Cross and four police stations in Baghdad; suicide bomber strikes outside school in Falluja.

28 Oct International Committee of the Red Cross begins withdrawal of all staff.

Nov 2003

12 Nov Attack on Italian base at An Nasiriyah kills 26 including 18 Italians and 8 Iraqis.

15 Nov Iraqi Governing Council unveils a timetable for the transfer of sovereignty beginning in May 2004 with the formation of transitional assembly.


 Chapter 12 - Drawdown, Recuperation and Costs
Annex B - Deployed Forces - Royal Navy 

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