Operation Iraqi Freedom:
Started: March 20, 2003 Ended: December 18, 2011
The invasion of Iraq occurred as part of the George W. Bush administration’s War on Terror, following the attacks on September 11, 2001.
The Iraq War began on 20 March 2003, when the U.S., joined by the U.K. and several coalition allies, launched a ” Shock and Awe” bombing campaign. Iraqi forces were quickly overwhelmed as coalition forces swept through the country. The invasion led to the collapse of the Ba’athist government; Saddam Hussein was captured during Operation Red Dawn in December of that same year and executed three years later.
The power vacuum following Saddam’s demise and the mismanagement by the Coalition Provisional Authority led to widespread civil war between Shias and Sunnis, as well as a lengthy insurgency against coalition forces. Many of the violent insurgent groups were supported by Iran and Al-Qaeda in Iraq. The United States responded with a build-up of 170,000 troops in 2007. This build-up gave greater control to Iraq’s government and military, and was judged a success by many. In 2008, President Bush agreed to a withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops from Iraq. The withdrawal was completed under President Barack Obama in December 2011.