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ON POINT II: Transition to the New Campaign

The United States Army in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM May 2003-January 2005


Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our Coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.

-President George W. Bush, 1 May 20031

In early April 2003, Coalition forces led by the US Army overwhelmed the Iraqi Army, captured the ancient city of Baghdad, and toppled the Baathist regime that had controlled Iraq for over 30 years. Many perceived the US forces’ swift and stunning victory over Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein as the end of hostilities. President George W. Bush reinforced this feeling when, standing aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln under a large banner proclaiming “Mission Accomplished,” he congratulated Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines for their success in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF). Unfortunately, ousting the dictator failed to bring peace and stability to Iraq. In reality, the President’s speech signified the end of the beginning. The campaign’s larger objectives—securing and removal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and the creation of a stable, democratic state in Iraq—would require much more time and effort. What followed the major combat phase of OIF was the start of a new campaign—an effort described by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as the “long, hard slog” to stabilize and reconstruct Iraq.2

The United States’ conflict with Iraq had been growing and intensifying for over a decade. America first took direct military action against Iraq after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1990. With the condemnation of Saddam’s aggression through United Nations (UN) Resolutions 660 and 662, and the demand for his withdrawal from Kuwait by 15 January 1991, the path for American intervention was established. President George H.W. Bush enforced the two resolutions by issuing National Security Directive (NSD) 54 on 15 January 1991 authorizing US Armed Forces to initiate military action against Iraq. As a result, American forces and a large Coalition of international troops already occupying defensive positions in Saudi Arabia began preparing for offensive action against Iraq. The air war component of the Gulf War campaign began on 17 January and continued to destroy Iraqi targets until ground forces initiated their attack on 24 February. Coalition forces liberated Kuwait City and, in the 100-hour ground war, destroyed much of Iraq’s military in the area. Kuwait’s liberation seemed to establish Operation DESERT STORM as an unequivocal success.3 However, many questioned the American President’s decision not to direct his forces north to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

The ease with which the Coalition destroyed most of Saddam’s army revealed the military weakness of the Baathist regime. Nevertheless, Saddam did keep his grasp on the levers of power within Iraq, partly because of the perception that dethroning him would bring too many difficulties. In a rather prescient statement, given the events of the summer of 2003, then Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney summed up the rationale for not overthrowing the Baathist regime in 1991:

If we’d gone to Baghdad and got rid of Saddam Hussein—assuming we could have found him—we’d have had to put a lot of forces in and run him to ground some place. He would not have been easy to capture. Then you’ve got to put a new government in his place and then you’re faced with the question of what kind of government are you going to establish in Iraq? Is it going to be a Kurdish government or a Shia government or a Sunni government? How many forces are you going to have to leave in there to keep it propped up, how many casualties are you going to take through the course of this operation?4

Many in the first Bush administration assumed that the Gulf War had so gravely weakened Saddam that an offensive against Baghdad would not be necessary. Saddam’s regime already seemed on the brink of collapse when revolts broke out after the Coalition victory between the Shias and the Baathists in the south of Iraq and between the Kurds and the Baathists in the north. As a precondition to an armistice, Saddam agreed to the provisions of UN Resolution 686 (2 March 1991). 5 Then, UN Resolution 687 established additional terms on a defeated Iraq. The latter resolution re-imposed on Iraq a host of previous resolutions that Saddam had ignored with regard to Kuwait. It was this agreement that contained the seed of future conflict between the United States and Iraq. Resolution 687 laid out strict prohibitions on Iraq in terms of development of nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) weapons. Saddam’s defiance of Resolution 687 was one of the reasons the later Bush administration used to justify its invasion of Iraq.6 Saddam seemed impotent, and with the Kurds rebelling in the north and the Shias in the south, Saddam’s reign of terror in Iraq appeared to be tottering on the edge, ready to topple into oblivion.

Assumptions about Saddam’s demise proved to be premature. The Iraqi dictator maintained control of his army and used it to brutally suppress the uprisings. The United States watched the course of events unfold, but provided little direct military support to either the Shias or the Kurds. Instead, Coalition forces intervened with humanitarian assistance for the Kurds in the north and by creating no-fly zones over both Kurdish and Shia areas to prevent further repression by the Iraqi Army. Saddam clung to power even as Iraq was transformed into an international pariah state that defied a host of UN sanctions.7

The United States and the United Nations attempted to contain Saddam between 1991 and 2003. After internal uprisings failed to depose the leader, President George H.W. Bush worked through the UN to implement a policy of isolation, using trade sanctions and weapons inspections to keep Saddam from acquiring WMD. Bush’s successor, President William (Bill) Clinton, essentially followed the same policy. The United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) assumed responsibility for ensuring Iraq did not obtain WMD during this period. Conflict continued in the form of Iraq’s obstruction of inspection efforts through constant harassment, intimidation, and threats against the UNSCOM teams. Despite these significant obstacles, the teams did uncover and dismantle significant NBC weapons programs. Throughout this period of sanctions, however, Saddam maintained a tight hold on power.

Diplomacy was not the only instrument of power used by the United States against Iraq in this period. By creating the northern and southern no-fly zones in 1991, the US military, with help from its British partner, contained Iraq’s Army and Air Force to regions inside their own country. Many believed this policy would place further pressure on the Baathist regime, yet Saddam actually used his military forces several times in the decade following Operation DESERT STORM to threaten Coalition forces. In 1994 the Iraqi Army began mobilizing units near the Kuwaiti border, causing the deployment of 54,000 US troops to Kuwait to repel a potential attack.8 When Iraqi forces quickly backed down, the United States began developing its military infrastructure in Kuwait, preparing bases and pre-positioning combat equipment that could be used to deter future Iraqi aggression.

After the 1994 incident, Saddam limited his actions to periodic surface-to-air missile attacks on British and American aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones. Serious conflict erupted in December 1998 when American and British forces launched a 3-day campaign of cruise-missile attacks and air strikes on key Iraqi military installations.9 This offensive, known as Operation DESERT FOX, was mounted in response to Saddam’s disruption of UNSCOM’s WMD inspection efforts. Operation DESERT FOX punished the Saddam regime, but fell short of forcing it from power. The Iraqis responded by forcing the UNSCOM inspectors to leave. Just days after the last Tomahawk missile struck its target, Iraqi antiaircraft batteries again commenced firing at US warplanes policing the no-fly zones.

US frustration over Saddam’s diplomatic cat-and-mouse games with UN inspectors grew. Many in and out of the US Government began to believe a golden opportunity to topple the Iraqi dictator in the first Gulf War had slipped away. To provide the groundwork for a remedy to this problem, the US Government made the overthrow of Saddam part of its official foreign policy with the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (H.R. 4655). The act directed the President to support the overthrow of Saddam through a variety of ways, including funding domestic and external opposition groups. It also pledged that the United States would promote democracy in Iraq and in the region and catalogued a litany of violations of various UN resolutions, especially Resolution 687. Thus, by the end of 1999, US frustration with Saddam had been simmering for almost a decade.10

At the start of the new century, few means of mitigating tensions between Iraq and the United States seemed to exist. To some Americans, the situation was indefensible and simply could not continue indefinitely. The catalyst that ultimately shifted the dynamics of the conflict originated not in Iraq but from a shadowy terrorist organization called al-Qaeda, which launched a deadly terrorist attack aimed at key targets inside the United States on 11 September 2001.11 Shortly thereafter, President George W. Bush launched the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) to eradicate al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations sympathetic to their cause. Because al-Qaeda was not a nation, Bush faced the dilemma of determining where to strike. With no mailing address, al-Qaeda proved an elusive foe.12

The Bush administration decided to attack the terrorist group by targeting the nations actively sheltering al-Qaeda operatives. The most active supporter of al-Qaeda, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, provided Osama bin Laden a safe haven, money, recruits, and training grounds. The President wanted to send a clear signal to states sponsoring terrorism that the United States would not tolerate any support for al-Qaeda or its infrastructure. This major shift in strategic policy led to Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF) in Afghanistan, which began on 7 October 2001. Using a combination of air power and land forces, a United States-led Coalition evicted the Taliban from Afghanistan’s major cities. Perhaps the most striking feature of the campaign was the highly successful partnership of American and Allied special operations forces (SOF) and anti-Taliban forces from the Afghan Northern Alliance—an innovation that led to the relatively easy capture of the capital city, Kabul. Within 2 months, Taliban and al-Qaeda forces were driven into the mountains on the Afghanistan–Pakistan border, and a new Afghan interim government took power in the liberated capital.

With the Taliban removed from power and al-Qaeda on the run in Afghanistan, President Bush turned his attention to Iraq. Saddam Hussein’s behavior following the 1991 Gulf War had established the dictator’s willingness to flout international law. Saddam continued to obstruct the weapons inspectors (who had become known as the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission and returned to Iraq), bragged that he would use WMD on Israel if he possessed them, and maintained contact with Islamic terrorist groups.13 In light of the terrorist attacks of 11 September, the possibility of a nuclear-armed Saddam passing WMD or related technology to terrorists, or actually using WMD, could not be permitted by the United States. The Iraqi dictator’s obstructionist tactics and maltreatment of Hans Blix’s team of weapons inspectors provided further cause to view him as a serious threat.

The Bush administration deemed Saddam the next significant target in the GWOT. On 29 January 2002, President Bush delivered the “Axis of Evil” State of the Union address, in which he singled out three rogue nations as particularly dangerous: Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. He also enunciated his policy of preemption: “We’ll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.”14 This clear policy statement might have caused Saddam Hussein to reassess his behavior toward UN weapons inspectors. The President articulated America’s intent to take dramatic steps unless the Iraqi dictator altered course.15 Yet the relationship between the United States and Iraq remained tense.

Throughout 2002 the Bush administration continued to argue for unseating Saddam. This claim rested on two main assertions: first, Saddam flouted international law by willfully ignoring UN resolutions requiring him to disarm and relinquish his WMD; and second, Saddam maintained ties with al-Qaeda. Further, the Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998 made it official US policy to depose Saddam. Vice President Richard Cheney stated on 26 August 2002 at the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention: “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.”16 On 12 September, the President addressed the UN General Assembly urging the UN to enforce Iraq’s disarmament obligations.17

While the Bush administration continued to lobby for international sanctions against Saddam, it began building domestic support for regime change through military action. In October 2002, with strong encouragement from the administration, Congress passed the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq. This measure gave the Bush administration the authority to use force against Saddam Hussein to uphold UN mandates and prevent terrorism. Having garnered this critical approval at home, the administration moved forward in its preparation for the impending conflict.18

Most of the planning for war against Iraq occurred within the Department of Defense (DOD) at US Central Command (CENTCOM). These planners concentrated on defeating Saddam’s army in battle (focusing primarily on what was doctrinally known as Phase III of a military campaign—Decisive Operations). As these preparations matured, the Bush administration made one of its most significant prewar decisions by placing principal responsibility for Phase IV of the campaign, the Transition Phase that included stability operations, squarely on the shoulders of the DOD led by Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Charged with this mandate, Rumsfeld created an organization called the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) and, in late January 2003, chose retired Lieutenant General Jay Garner as its head.19

ORHA, with less than 3 months to organize itself and develop plans, faced the enormously complex task of restoring basic services and governance to a post-Saddam Iraq. To meet the timeline, Garner relied on his contacts in the military. ORHA eventually entered Baghdad several weeks after the Army with a senior leadership comprised mainly of retired generals and other senior officers who were adept planners experienced in conducting stability operations. The State Department and other organizations within the Government provided Garner with additional staff members. Despite this combined expertise, ORHA’s senior ranks lacked significant depth in diplomatic experience and had limited understanding of the Middle East.20

As ORHA gradually coalesced in early 2003, preparations for the pending conflict accelerated. In early February 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell briefed the UN Security Council about the grave threat posed by an Iraq that had developed and stockpiled WMD. In that address, Powell forcefully argued that Saddam continued to defy UN resolutions, possessed WMD, and was in league with al-Qaeda.21 This diplomatic initiative supported the large-scale movements of Soldiers and equipment into the theater of operations. By mid-March one brigade of the 82d Airborne Division (82d ABN) and most of the 101st Airborne Division (101st ABN) had arrived in Kuwait, joining the 3d Infantry Division (3d ID), which had been in theater since late 2002. These forces would make up the major combat power of the US Army V Corps commanded by Lieutenant General William S. Wallace.

By early March the 1st Marine Division (1st MARDIV) and most of the 1st United Kingdom (UK) Armoured Division had arrived in Kuwait. By this time the US 4th Infantry Division (4th ID) prepared to open a northern front in Iraq by coming ashore at Turkish ports in the Mediterranean and transiting through Turkey to the Iraqi frontier. On 1 March 2003 Turkey’s Grand National Assembly rejected the United States’ request that 4th ID use Turkey’s land corridors en route to Iraq, and American planners rerouted the division to Kuwait. While this upset the US plan, Army commanders believed they possessed enough combat power in theater by mid-March to conduct a successful campaign against Iraq. On 17 March 2003 President Bush gave Saddam Hussein an ultimatum to leave Iraq within 48 hours or face invasion. Two days later, the United States launched a “decapitation” attack on Saddam at Dora Farms in southeast Baghdad. This strike failed, but the message was clear—America was ready and willing to forcibly remove Saddam from power. The next day Coalition forces breached the berm on the Kuwaiti–Iraqi border and entered Iraq.22

The campaign, now called Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF), was unique in a number of ways. When developing the operation, American planners designed Phase III of the campaign to achieve one strategic objective and two supporting operational objectives. The strategic objective was to destroy the Baathist regime: Coalition forces would attack Iraqi military and political targets and topple Saddam’s government.23 With this priority in mind, Coalition planners regarded the capital, Baghdad, as the enemy’s center of gravity. Thus, while combat with Iraqi units in the south would be necessary, more critical was the need to get to Baghdad and destroy important military and political pillars of the regime. Coalition forces assumed the additional task of hunting down regime officials, often referred to as high-value targets, to prevent their escape or their going underground to lead an armed resistance. In many ways the plan proved to be bold and unconventional in that Coalition forces avoided combat with some frontline Iraqi forces, choosing instead to focus on other elements of Saddam’s government as their primary targets.24 The two operational objectives supporting the larger strategic goal were (1) the discovery and elimination of any WMD to prevent their future use against Coalition forces or other countries, and (2) the preservation of the Iraqi oil infrastructure to avoid a repetition of the disaster in 1991 when Iraqi forces inflicted massive damage on Kuwaiti oil wells. This latter objective was particularly significant for Iraq’s postwar recovery because many in the Bush administration viewed Iraq’s plentiful oil reserves as the source of funding for the reconstruction of the country.25 War planners hoped to achieve all three of these objectives with minimal loss of human life.

The conventional combat phase of OIF essentially unfolded according to plan. The Iraqi military and government were subjected to a “shock and awe” display of the Coalition’s uncontested control of the skies. Coalition air forces attacked a wide array of political and military targets in support of the overall mission shortly before the land component struck on 20 March 2003. Once ground operations began, air forces shifted their mission to close air support of Coalition land forces.26 The audacity of the plan to invade Iraq with a relatively small ground force that totaled five divisions created debate inside and outside of the US Government and the military—debate that continues to this day.

OIF ground operations began 24 hours ahead of schedule when reports came in that Iraqis were sabotaging the oil wells. In examining captured Iraqi documents and postwar interviews with senior Iraqi leaders, however, it appears that Saddam did not order the destruction. Apparently the dictator did not want to be known as the man who destroyed Iraq’s wealth.27 In the first few days of the campaign, Coalition forces surged into Iraq and accomplished three tactical goals: they breached the berms on the Iraqi–Kuwaiti border, seized Tallil Air Base, and isolated the city of As Samawah. The berm separating Iraq and Kuwait required a coordinated and complicated action that would allow attacking forces to fan out after making their way through. 3d ID captured the Tallil Air Base on the outskirts of An Nasiriyah after a 140-kilometer attack; the air base ultimately became the Combined Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC) forward operating base for further operations into the Iraqi interior. Other units followed as Coalition forces isolated An Nasiriyah and met Iraqi paramilitary forces for the first time in substantial numbers. This was the first clear sign Coalition forces would not be warmly welcomed by all Iraqis.28

To secure Iraq’s oil fields, US Marines, supported by US Army artillery, moved quickly around the southern oil fields west of Basrah. This maneuver, as well as a robust psychological operations (PSYOP) program, prevented Iraqis from defying Saddam’s orders and sabotaging their own facilities. Coalition SOF also conducted operations in the Persian Gulf to secure offshore oil rigs. The combination of Marine Corps forces supported by Army artillery, PSYOP, and SOF was remarkably successful.29

The Coalition’s advance continued to Baghdad despite short delays caused by extremely bad weather. While rolling toward the Iraqi capital, the Coalition paid close attention to securing ever-lengthening lines of communications (LOCs) by isolating and eventually securing the city of An Najaf, which lay along the axis of advance. The logistical difficulties of keeping Coalition forces supplied over a 450-kilometer road network from Kuwait to Baghdad were monumental. In fact, the need to safeguard the LOCs forced V Corps to commit the 101st ABN and an 82d ABN brigade combat team with divisional enablers and a division command post to provide route security and to defeat enemy paramilitary forces in cities such as An Najaf, As Samawah, and Karbala. The surprising amount of resistance from Iraqi paramilitary forces in these cities led Lieutenant General Wallace to comment to the New York Times, “The enemy we’re fighting is different from the one we war gamed against.”30

As the mechanized units approached Baghdad from the south, other Coalition forces occupied critical areas in the west and north of the country. The American members of the 10th Special Forces Group and other Coalition Special Operations Soldiers joined to make up Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force–North (CJSOTF-North), which infiltrated into northern Iraq to link up with Kurdish military forces called the Peshmerga. Once CJSOTF-North established its presence, one part of the task force combined with Kurdish troops to mount a successful assault on Ansar al-Islam, a terrorist group that operated from a base in the mountainous area of northeast Iraq near the Iranian border.31 The other main element of CJSOTF-North focused on helping the Peshmerga attack and pin down the Iraqi Army units in position around the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, preventing them from moving south to meet the main Coalition land offensive. Working with both the US Army’s 173d Airborne Brigade that had parachuted into the area and Coalition air power, the Kurds and their special operations advisors began attacking these enemy forces. By the first week of April, Iraqi resistance crumbled under the combined assault of these forces, opening a path to these two crucial northern cities.32

In western Iraq, a second special operations force began deep reconnaissance missions and operations to thwart the Saddam regime from retaliating against the Coalition by launching Scud ballistic missiles at the state of Israel. This force, known as Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force–West (CJSOTF-West), included American forces from the 5th Special Forces Group and Coalition special operations units. As they spread across the desert wastes, the special forces teams provided critical intelligence on Iraqi forces in the western area of the country, secured the critical military sites in this region that could have been used in strategic attacks against Coalition interests, and destroyed the small enemy elements that chose to fight.

Beyond the Call of Duty
Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith
and the Medal of Honor

On 4 April 2003, the 3d Infantry Division attacked to seize the Baghdad International Airport located on the western edge of the Iraqi capital. As part of that operation, Task Force 2-7 occupied a blocking position to prevent an enemy counterattack. While preparing to meet a possible Iraqi attack, the Soldiers of B Company, 11th Engineer Battalion, attached to TF 2-7, received orders to build a temporary prisoner of war compound in the area. Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith, platoon sergeant for 2d Platoon, B Company, began to direct the construction of that site.

Paul Smith, a native of Tampa, Florida, joined the US Army in 1988 and became a combat engineer. During the 1990s, he served as an engineer in Kuwait, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Kosovo. By the time he deployed to Iraq with the 3d Infantry Division in 2003, Smith was an experienced platoon sergeant as well as a husband and a father of two children.

Once Smith’s platoon received the mission to build the compound near the airport, he began organizing his Soldiers, collecting materials, and preparing the site. Quickly, however, the Soldiers in his platoon sighted approximately 60 Iraqi soldiers armed with small arms and mortars approaching their position. Smith immediately began organizing a unit defense by establishing squad sectors and positioning three M113A3 Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) and a Bradley Fighting Vehicle on his platoon’s perimeter to take advantage of their firepower.

As the enemy attack began in earnest, Smith directed the fire of his unit’s weapons. He led by example by moving among his men and personally using both hand grenades and an AT-4 against advancing Iraqi soldiers. As the enemy ranks drew nearer, three members of the platoon fell wounded when an PC took a direct hit from a mortar round.

After supervising the evacuation of the wounded, Smith climbed behind the .50 Cal machine gun on the top deck of an APC, a position that was vulnerable to enemy fire. The official citation written in support of his award describes what happened next: “in total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded. His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack, and resulted in as many as 50 enemy soldiers killed, while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers.” Smith’s courage turned back an assault that endangered not just his platoon but other task force units, including the battalion aid station where the wounded were located.

On 4 April 2005 at the White House, President George W. Bush posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor to Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith for his actions on that day in Baghdad. In that ceremony Paul Smith became the first Soldier to receive the Medal of Honor for actions in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.
(accessed 12 March 2008)


In the south along the axes of the main attack, Coalition forces moved so quickly that within 1 week of the start of operations, Iraqi resistance became confused and disorganized. This final phase of the operation in the south included the forcing of the Karbala Gap—a natural chokepoint where American intelligence officers expected Iraqi resistance to be fierce—and the crossing of the Euphrates River. On 1 April elements of 3d ID successfully pushed through the Karbala Gap. While some Iraqi units chose to fight near the town of Karbala, the American mechanized units quickly defeated them and secured crossings over the Euphrates. With the road to Baghdad open, the 3d ID continued its lightning push to the capital. On 4 April, after a tough but lopsided fight that dealt significant damage to Iraqi Republican Guard units, the division captured Saddam International Airport. This event signaled the final days of Saddam’s hold on power.33

Understanding that the campaign’s ultimate prize was in sight, Wallace, the V Corps commander, and Major General Buford C. Blount III, the 3d ID commander, aggressively pierced the Baghdad defenses with “Thunder Runs”—raids launched by the tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles of the 2d Brigade Combat Team of the 3d ID into the heart of the city. These forays began on 4 April and proved remarkably effective against a dazed and surprised enemy. The Iraqis resisted, but Republican Guard, paramilitary forces, irregulars, and armed civilians were no match for the tanks and Bradleys that streaked down Baghdad’s streets. By 9 April organized resistance ceased and the Americans appeared to be in control of the Iraqi capital. Also on that day, US Marines helped Iraqis overturn Saddam’s statue in Firdos Square, an event meant to symbolize the apparent implosion of the Baathist regime and the end of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship.34 The Coalition’s plan to oust Saddam had been an overwhelming success. Its rapidity and audacity moved military historian John Keegan to describe the offensive as “a lightning campaign” that was “unprecedented” in its speed and decisiveness.35

This stunning victory led President Bush, with the encouragement of his top military leaders, to announce the end to major combat operations on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln. While viewed by some as tantamount to a declaration of victory, in reality, this announcement merely marked the point where the campaign transitioned from combat to the next phase of operations focused on the reconstruction of Iraq. The US Government and Coalition military forces alike found themselves unprepared for what came next. At this point, policy formulated in Washington, DC, and in London began to shape operations far more than plans made by CENTCOM or even the actual conditions on the ground in Iraq. The Coalition’s strategy for removing Saddam had been painstakingly conceived, rehearsed, and successfully prosecuted. Military victory over the Saddam regime had only been the first step toward success in Iraq however. Indeed, the next step—winning the peace by stabilizing and rebuilding Iraq—would become another campaign altogether. Few, if any, in the White House, Department of Defense, or the US Army foresaw the impending struggle to create a new Iraq in place of the Saddam regime as the greatest challenge of OIF.



1. “President Bush Announces Major Combat Operations Have Ended: Remarks by the President from the USS Abraham Lincoln At Sea Off the Coast of San Diego, California,”, 1 May 2003, (accessed 1 February 2006).

2. Donald Rumsfeld, War on Terror memorandum, 16 October 2003, (accessed 9 March 2006). This memorandum was originally leaked to USA Today. Mr. Rumsfeld acknowledged the veracity of the memorandum in an interview on 2 November 2003, (accessed 14 April 2006).

3. Lawrence Freedman and Efraim Karsh, The Gulf Conflict 1990–1991: Diplomacy and War in the New World Order (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993), 85–109; Operation Desert Storm: Ten Years After, National Security Archive, (accessed 22 February 2006).

4. Freedman and Karsh, 413. The original quote came from BBC Radio 4, “The Desert War—A Kind of Victory,” 16 February 1992.

5. Freedman and Karsh, 407; UN Web site, “Resolution 686,” (accessed 12 September 2006).

6. UN Web site, “Resolution 687,” (accessed 12 September 2006).

7. Freedman and Karsh, 425–427; UN Web site, “Resolution 686.”

8. “Chronology: From DESERT STORM to DESERT FOX,” DefenseLink, (accessed 20 April 2006).

9. “Chronology: From DESERT STORM to DESERT FOX.”

10. “Iraq Liberation Act of 1998,” Public Law 105-338—Oct. 31, 1998,, (accessed 12 September 2006).

11. Williamson Murray and Robert H. Scales Jr., The Iraq War: A Military History (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003), 33.

12. Murray and Scales, 38–41.

13. On the connection between the Saddam regime and Islamic terrorist organizations, see Kevin M. Woods, Project Leader, with James Lacey, Iraqi Perspectives Project, Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights from Captured Iraqi Documents, 5 vols. (Alexandria, VA: Institute for Defense Analyses, 2008).

14. “President Delivers the State of the Union Address,”, 29 January 2002, (accessed 23 February 2006).

15. “State of the Union Address,” 29 January 2002.

16. David L. Phillips, Losing Iraq: Inside the Postwar Reconstruction Fiasco (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2005), 242; “Vice President Speaks at VFW 103d National Convention,”, 26 August 2002, (accessed 12 September 2006).

17. Phillips, 242.

18. “The Iraqi Liberation Act: Statement by the President,” 31 October 1998, (accessed 27 February 2006); “H.R. 4655 Iraq Liberation Act of 1998,” (accessed 27 February 2006); House of Representatives, Report 107, “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002,” 7 October 2002, (accessed 27 February 2006).

19. Phillips, 242.

20. Phillips, 242; Larry Diamond, Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq (New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, 2005), 30–31.

21. “US Secretary of State Colin Powell Addresses the UN Security Council,”, (accessed 27 February 2006).

22. The “Coalition of the Willing” involved 30 nations: Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, and Uzbekistan. Not all of these nations sent troops, but they did aid the war effort and later the reconstruction effort in some way. Steve Schifferes, “US names ‘Coalition of the Willing,’” BBC News, 18 March 2003, (accessed 13 September 2006).

23. General Tommy Franks, American Soldier (New York, NY: Harper Collins, 2004), 389.

24. Joint Chiefs of Staff, JP 3-0, Joint Operations (Washington, DC, September 2006), III-19 to III-21.

25. Murray and Scales, 90–91.

26. COL Gregory Fontenot, US Army Retired, LTC E.J. Degen, US Army, and LTC David Tohn, US Army, On Point: The United States Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom (Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute Press, 2004), 86–87.

27. Kevin M. Woods et al., Iraqi Perspectives Project: A View of Operation Iraqi Freedom from Saddam’s Senior Leadership. Joint Center for Operational Analysis (Norfolk, VA: US Joint Forces Command, 2005), (accessed 12 September 2006), 98–99.

28. Woods et al., 86–89.

29. Woods et al., 95–97.

30. Woods et al., 141–150, 184–221.

31. Charles H. Briscoe, Kenneth Finlayson, and Robert W. Jones Jr., All Roads Lead to Baghdad: Army Special Operations Forces in Iraq (Fort Bragg, NC: US Army Special Operations Command History Office, 2006), 194–198.

32. Murray and Scales, 188–195.

33. Murray and Scales, 195–209.

34. Murray and Scales, 210–218.

35. John Keegan, The Iraq War (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), 1.

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