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Graphic - Center for Army Lessons Learned


On Point

The United States Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom


Photo Gallery


3rd ID soldier participating in live-fire maneuver exercise at Udairi Range, Kuwait. Soldiers conducted extensive individual, small-unit, and combined training exercises while staging in the Kuwaiti desert.
Psychological operations leaflet urging Iraqis not to destroy the oil facilities (English translation). The coalition distributed thousands of leaflets throughout OIF, specifically designed for different phases of the campaign.

Port receiving operations in Kuwait. The coalition operated in three seaports to receive forces for employment in OIF. They used one major airport (Kuwait International) to receive the preponderance of soldiers, airmen and marines.
First tank ditch, Kuwit-Iraq border. Originally built to support the defense of Kuwait from a second Iraqi invasion, the obstacle complex along the border was the first required breach as the coalition advanced into Iraq.

Lieutenant General McKiernan, commander of the CFLCC, on the phone in the CFLCC War Room, surrounded by his battle staff. Brigadier General Chris Cowdrey, USM, deputy C3 CFLCC, is on McKiernan's right. Major General "Fuzzy" Webster, deputy commander-operations, is on his left. Officers in back from left to right are Major Chris Ionta, Colonel March Eshelman, Major Brad Reed and Captain Tom Harshbarger.
Soldiers at the burning oil fields. US trooper backlighted by burning well in the Rumaila oil field, southern Iraq. Great emphasis was put on preserving these assets for future generations of Iraqis.

D/5-52 ADA protecting the 101st Airborne Division at TAA THUNDER ROAD. The Patriot missile system proved invaluable in protecting coalition forces and key facilities from Iraqi surface-to-surface missiles. Their protection enabled the coalition to stage forces with confidence.

Convoy briefings were standard prior to movement across the border into Iraq. Captain Don Nowlin, convoy commander, gives a convoy operations brief to troops assigned to 407th Forward Support Battalion of the 82nd Airborne Division.

Soldiers resting during the sandstorm. Described as "one 72-hour day," the running start was a grueling test of soldiers' stamina and endurance. These smart soldiers took an opportunity to rest, apparently unaffected by the sand and wind.
Satellite photograph depicts the "Mother of all Sandstorms" on 25 March 2003. Described as "biblical," the sandstorm of 25-28 March had a significant effect on the pace of combat and support operations. When describing the storm, troops reported that it was "raining mud."

Soldier reading a compass during sandstorm. The sandstorm made even the most routine tasks difficult. Despite the limited visibility and flying sand, soldiers continued combat operations in the attack to Baghdad.

Roads in Iraq were even more perilous during the sandstorm. Moving through what looked like a Mars landscape, soldiers continued the attack north toward Baghdad.

While under enemy fire, TF3-69 AR continues to attack up the escarpment near An Najaf. Iraqi air defense weapons are burning in the background. The Raider Brigade approaches the escarpment along the single-lane road, with a lake on the left side and marsh on the right. The Iraqis appreciated the choke point and attempted to defend from along the cliffs, but their defense failed.
A soldier serving with the 101st Airborne Division does his laundry "GI-style" near Karbala. Hygiene in combat can be difficult but is necessary to ensure good health and morale.
Soldier from the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, looking at a collection of Iraqi weapons recovered from the Iraqi elementary school in the background, in An Najaf. In addition to the large-scale depots, the Fedayeen and other paramilitary fighters routinely staged out of schools and hospitals due to the belief that the coalition would not engage those targets.
An Iraqi motorcycle with sidecar and a mounted recoilless rifle met a fitful end on the battlefield. Iraqi paramilitary defenders frequently modified civilian vehicles, mounting various machine guns, rocket launchers, and recoilless rifles. Coalition forces often had difficulty identifying "real" civilian vehicles from the modified vehicles.

Soldiers clearing a building work as a well synchronized team. A/1-508 IN troops provide security as the rest of their team moves upstairs to clear a building inside an abandoned Iraqi military base.

2-319 FA howitzer crew prepares howitzer to fire. The long hours of crew drill training in peacetime pay off in combat as the crews rapidly emplace and deliver deadly accurate fires on enemy positions.
"One Weekend a Month, My Ass!!" sign posted on a vehicle on the move in Iraq. Army Reserve and National Guard troops played important roles during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Many originally mobilized following the 11 September 2001 attack to support the Global War on Terrorism and remained on extended tours or were subsequently remobilized for OIF. As part of the total Army, the Reserve and National Guard units bring indispensable capabilities to the force.
Lieutenant General McKiernan (right) discussing coalition progress. Command Sergeant Major John Sparks (left), of the Combined Forces Land Component Command, talks with CFLCC's senior intelligence officer, Major General James Marks (center), and McKiernan. McKiernan noted that the land force had moved as far in 32 hours as it had in 96 hours 12 years earlier.


The 173rd Airborne Brigade prepares to board for movement to Iraq. The deployment of the 173rd Airborne Brigade from Italy into northern Iraq created a strategic dilemma for the Iraqis, effectively fixing several divisions that might otherwise have moved south against the main coalition forces.

The 173rd Airborne Brigade troopers board a C-17 aircraft. Recently organized and expanded into a full airborne brigade, the 173rd Airborne Brigade provided CENTCOM with an agile and rapidly deployable force to use in northern Iraq.
Soldiers with the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment unpack their equipment after arrival in theater and prepare for combat operations at a base in Kuwait. The rapid deployment and integration of the 2nd ACR were critical to securing the lines of communication in Iraq.
An M1A1 Abrams tank from C/1-63 AR unloads in Bashur, Iraq. Conducting operations throughout the night, the USAF's C-17 Globemaster III proved an effective and capable strategic lift aircraft. TF 1-63 AR from European Command's Immediate Ready Force lent a heavy combat force to the 173rd Airborne Brigade in northern Iraq.

Soldiers from Delta Battery, 319th Artillery Regiment, react to enemy fire near Bashur Airfield in northern Iraq. Enemy fire could come from many directions and at any time early in the campaign.
A special operations forces soldier watches as an incendiary grenade burns a captured Iraqi anti-aircraft gun outside the liberated town of An Nukhayb, Iraq.


Sergeant Gilbert Henderson of Sumter, South Carolina, makes an adjustment to the 30mm cannon on an AH-64 Apache helicopter at the FARP being run by HHC, 1-3 AVN near Jalibah. The FARP was one of many that allowed helicopters to operate well forward during the campaign.
Lieutenant General David McKiernan (seated center), and Lieutenant General James Conway (left), commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, discuss future operations shortly after the battle of An Nasiriyah.

TF 3-69 AR soldiers accept the surrender of Iraqi troops following an assault on Iraqi forces north of the Karbala gap. It was often difficult to identify the enemy combatants as they shed their uniforms for civilian attire.

Soldiers of B/2-325 IN of the 82nd Airborne Division move out for an operation in the city of As Samawah. The "All Americans" played a pivotal role in securing the lines of communication so V Corps could advance on Baghdad.
173rd Airborne Brigade troops clearing a building in northern Iraq. At points during the war, many cities and villages required clearing building by building.
Lieutenant General Wallace and Major General Petraeus enjoy a lighter moment in Kirkuk shortly after the 101st Airborne Division transitioned to the northern part of Iraq.


The CFLCC common operational picture on D-day shows coalition units stacked on the Iraqi border, prepared to launch north to Baghdad.

The CFLCC common operational picture shows unit positions in central Baghdad. The blue icons of 2nd BCT of 3rd ID's second thunder run dramatically display the CFLCC's second thrust into Baghdad. The first thunder run on 5 April drove through the heart of Baghdad and then exited to the west.

A soldier from A/11 Engineer Battalion busily clears Iraqi demolitions from the bridge at Objective PEACH. The Iraqi defenders attempted to destroy key bridges over the Euphrates River and various canals to slow the coalition's advance. Combat engineers cleared bridges and minefields and engaged in close-quarter combat to maintain momentum.

Engineers assess the damage on the northern span of the bridge at Objective PEACH. Securing key bridges was a critical task in the advance to Baghdad. Soldiers and marines captured almost every major bridge with minimal or no significant damage.

This captured Iraqi map depicts the Iraqi positions in black. Red arrows show anticipated coalition attacks. The map suggests that the Iraqis, in this unit at least, saw the main effort coming up the Tigris-Euphrates River Valley. The red circle in the center of the map is Objective JENKINS, site of heavy fighting during the five simultaneous attacks in early April.
Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division take cover near the al-Rasheed hotel in Baghdad. Urban operations require meticulous planning and synchronized execution at all levels of command.


TF 3-7 IN troops secure an overpass in western Baghdad. Coalition ground forces immediately tried to create a safe and secure environment so governmental and nongovernmental agencies could provide aid to the Iraqi people. A safe and secure environment also enabled Iraqis to go back to work.

Soldiers from the 3rd ID perform a reconnaissance security patrol as members from the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion conduct a survey and assess damage done by looting at Yarmuk Hospital in Baghdad. Restarting basic services after the defeat of the regime forces rapidly became the focus in April.
Soldiers from the 3rd ID dismount from a Bradley Fighting Vehicle to begin a reconnaissance security patrol. Although the regime's conventional forces were rapidly defeated, a significant threat from paramilitary and terrorist forces remained.
A Bradley Fighting Vehicle from the 3rd ID overwatches infantry near a presidential palace of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. There was no civilian police force in Iraq and the security role rapidly transitioned to coalition ground forces.

Soldiers in the aftermath of an Iraqi strike on 2nd Brigade, 3rd ID TOC. Although the TOC suffered serious losses of people and equipment, it was back in action within 2 hours.
2nd Brigade, 3rd ID soldiers salute their fallen comrades south of Baghdad. Serving with - and losing - one's friends and comrades is a deeply personal and emotional experience.

Memorial to 2nd Brigade, 3rd ID soldiers killed in the missile attack on the TOC on 7 April 2003. Honoring fallen comrades is fundamental to the profession of arms.




Sergeant Lonnie Roberts grieves for Private Gregory Huxley, killed on 6 April 2003, at a memorial service north of Baghdad. Serving in combat together makes a soldier's bond to his comrades stronger.

An Iraqi ammunition dump (below) near Baghdad explodes after an Apache fired on it. The Iraqi regime had ordnance stashed in nearly every crevice, school, hospital, and military installation in Iraq. Cleaning up this ammunition became a daunting task after major combat operations ceased.

Daily operations quickly take on a different face once the coalition begins the transition to a stability and security focus. Here soldiers from V Corps secure a site in downtown Baghdad on 15 April while an escaped camel from the Baghdad Zoo takes a stroll.

Literally hundreds of Iraqi ammunition depots (above) were scattered across Iraq. Because these sites were a hazard to the Iraqi people and potential sources of weapons and ammunition for any insurgents, coalition forces attempted to secure or destroy them. Several caught fire during combat operations or later, due to careless looters or possibly sabotage.
Special operations soldiers scan the horizon for potential threats near An Najaf. Coalition special operations units operated throughout Iraq in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. The cooperation and integration of SOF with conventional forces was unmatched by any past campaign. The ability to operate in a joint environment will be critical to any future successes.

CENTCOM Commander General Tommy Franks shakes the hand of Private First Class Patrick McDermott, a soldier with the 197th Aviation Battalion, who was recovering from wounds received in combat.

Soldiers from a sensitive site exploitation team measure rocket launchers during an inspection at Al Yusafiyah West Barracks and Training Facility. Coalition ground forces played a major role in the search for weapons of mass destruction and banned weapons per accords signed after DESERT STORM.
Ensuring the mail gets through is a fundamental part of sustaining soldiers' morale. Soldiers of C/2-325 IN happily read long-awaited mail in Diwaniyah, Iraq. During OIF, the armed forces moved four times as much mail per soldier as during DESERT STORM. This was a testament to the support of the American people.
Operating in a desert environment, water was as important as fuel and ammunition. Private First Class Jose Mesina and Sergeant Armando Arteagahart of the 407th Support Battalion gather water from a stream in Diwaniyah, Iraq, for testing and treatment. Despite reports to the contrary, there was plenty of water to go around for soldiers during the war.

Lieutenant General Wallace and Colonel Perkins in a discussion in downtown Baghdad on 7 April 2003. Despite advanced communication systems, commanders routinely sought face-to-face contact with their subordinates to assess the situation and provide whatever assistance or guidance they could.

Soldiers from 3rd ID with armored vehicles guard a gas-oil separation plant after a fuel tanker explosion outside Baghdad. Preserving the infrastructure for Iraqi reconstruction was a central feature of coalition planning and execution.

Happy children pose for the camera in Ar Rutba on 12 April while their parents draw humanitarian supplies from US soldiers. Soldiers continue to make great contributions to ensure that future generations of Iraqis have a chance for freedom.

This picture typified the gratitude of Iraqi people receiving humanitarian aid from American soldiers. As soon as a town or city was cleared of Iraqi fighters, coalition forces quickly transitioned to stability and support operations in a "rolling transition" to Phase IV operations.


[ Contents ] [ Foreword ] [ Preface ] [ Acknowledgments ] [ Introduction ]
[ Ch 1 ] [ Ch 2 ] [ Ch 3 ] [ Photos ] [ Ch 4 ] [ Ch 5 ] [ Ch 6 ] [ Ch 7 ] [ Ch 8 ]
[ OIF-SG Team ] [ Order of Battle ] [ Glossary ] [ Bibliography ]



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