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Graphic - Center for Army Lessons Learned

On Point

The United States Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom


On Point is a study of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF) as soon after the fact as feasible. The Army leadership chartered this effort in a message to the major commands on 30 April 2003. In his guidance, Army Chief of Staff General Eric K. Shinseki directed "a quick, thorough review that looks at the US Army's performance, assesses the role it played in the joint and coalition team, and captures the strategic, operational, and tactical lessons that should be disseminated and applied in future fights."

For those of us in the Operation IRAQI FREEDOM Study Group (OIF-SG),this translated into three separate products. A "quick look" lessons-learned briefing produced in July, less than 30 days after returning from the theater. On Point - this work - is the second product and was largely completed by January 2004. Finally, the most significant product is the archive of 119,000 documents, some 2,300 inter-views and 69,000 photos archived with the support and assistance of the CombinedArms Research Library at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

We had straightforward guidance and a short time horizon. Simply put, On Pointtells the Army's story in the only context possible - a combined-arms ground force operating in a joint environment. There is no other way for the Army to tell its story - theArmy cannot get to a theater of war, let alone fight, in any context but that of a joint operation. Accordingly, the OIF-SG relied heavily on the cooperation and support of units in the field and from our colleagues on the other services' collection teams. We also drew on the more deliberate efforts of the Center of Military History and unit historians. We encountered only helpful attitudes, with the exception of one or two Iraqi combatants who fired on or threw grenades at members of the team. The joint lessons learned team from the Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) assigned a liaison officer to the OIF-SG who proved helpful in working with our joint counterparts. The CombinedForces Land Component Command (CFLCC) historian, the V Corps historian, the Army Materiel Command historian, and various branch historians all were abundantly helpful.

Like the soldiers bound for the theater, we trained at two different replacement centers, and most of us deployed via military or Civilian Reserve Air Fleet aircraft.Once in theater, we traveled freely throughout area of operations. Members of the team visited Europe, Turkey, and nearly a dozen sites in the US, ranging from DoverAir Force Base, Delaware to Fort Bliss, Texas. To do this in the time allowed, we depended on others for help. We found eager and enthusiastic support at every stop.

Interpreting history is difficult; interpreting ongoing events is even more difficult.On Point is not the seminal history of the OIF or even of the Army in OIF. We under-stand the risks of a rapidly produced history and believe they are worth taking to glean initial insights, or what General Frederick M. Franks, Jr. described after DESERT STORM as "glimmerings" of change.

We wrote On Point with a readership of soldiers and those familiar with armies in battle in mind - discussing not only the fighting, but also describing the hard work"behind the scenes" that made the combat victories so successful. On Point is an operational history that derives some provisional insights that soldiers, our colleagues in the other services, and others may find useful or interesting. On Point will not be the last word or the definitive history of this operation that, as we went to publication, is still unfolding, but we believe that it will be cited in that effort and will help to explain the role the Army played. That is the goal of this effort - to kindle the discussion on what happened and why.

Where possible, we let soldiers tell their own stories, and while we sought a balanced accounting, On Point is not a proportional history of OIF. Some units are men-toned more than others and some soldiers are singled out - that does not mean that the efforts of units and soldiers not mentioned did not merit telling, only that time, space, and purpose forced some hard decisions. However, it was immediately clear to us that the American people have much to be proud of in the service and performance of America's Army as part of the joint team.

Colonel (Retired),
Lieutenant Colonel,
Lieutenant Colonel,

[ 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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