2003 invasion of Iraq

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This article regards the 2003 invasion of Iraq. For events after May 1, 2003, see Iraq War, and Post-invasion Iraq, 2003–2006
2003 Invasion of Iraq
Image:101st Airborne Division helos during Operation Iraqi Freedom.jpg
Black Hawk Helicopters from the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) move into Iraq during the opening stages of the 2003 Invasion

Date March 20, 2003May 1, 2003
Location Iraq
Result Saddam Hussein and Baath Party toppled; Occupation of Iraq; Emergence of Insurgency, and Sectarian violence,<ref>"Sectarian divisions change Baghdad’s image", Associated Press, 2006-07-03. Retrieved on 2006-08-06.</ref> election of a new government. Massive civilian casualties, brutal government linked death squad based repression. <ref>Template:Cite web</ref>


Casus belli Official allegations Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction and had ties to terrorists have been proven false. However, other motives against Iraq include alleged violation of UN resolutions, Saddam's brutal policies against his own people, and attempted murder of George H. W. Bush by Saddam's forces.<ref>President Discusses Beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom </ref>
Coalition Forces:
Image:Flag of the United States.svg United States
Image:Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
Image:Flag of Poland (bordered).svg Poland
Image:Flag of Australia.svg Australia
Image:Flag of South Korea (bordered).svg South Korea
Image:Flag of Romania.svg Romania
Image:Flag of Spain.svg Spain
Image:Flag of Portugal.svg Portugal
Image:Flag of Italy.svg Italy
Image:Flag of Iraq.svg Iraq
Image:Flag of the United States.svgGeorge W. Bush
Image:Flag of the United States.svgTommy Franks
Image:Flag of the United Kingdom.svgTony Blair
Image:Flag of Iraq.svgSaddam Hussein
263,000 375,000
183 4,895-6,370<ref>Conetta, Carl. "The Wages of War: Iraqi Combatant and Noncombatant Fatalities in the 2003 Conflict", Project on Defense Alternatives Research Monograph #8, 20 October 2003. Retrieved on 2006-08-09.</ref>
Iraq War
InvasionPost-invasion (InsurgencyCivil War)

Nasiriyah – Baghdad – Debecka Pass – Peninsula Strike –Red Dawn – 1st Fallujah – 1st Ramadi – Husaybah – Najaf – 2nd Fallujah – Matador – Steel Curtain – Al-Askari Mosque – 2nd Ramadi – Together Forward

Full list of Coalition operations
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Recent wars in the Persian Gulf
Iran-Iraq WarGulf WarIraq War

The 2003 invasion of Iraq, codenamed "Operation Iraqi Freedom" by the United States, officially began on March 20, 2003. The stated objective of the invasion was "to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction(which turned out to be non-existant), to end Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people".[1]. In preparation, 100,000 US troops were assembled in Kuwait by February 18.<ref>U.S. has 100,000 troops in Kuwait</ref> The United States supplied the majority of the invading forces. Supporters of the invasion included a coalition force of more than 40[citation needed] countries, and Kurds in northern Iraq. The 2003 Iraq invasion began the Iraq War.


[edit] Prelude to the Invasion

Prior to the invasion, the United States' official position was that Iraq was in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1441 regarding weapons of mass destruction and had to be disarmed by force.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The United Kingdom and United States attempted to get a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing military force, but withdrew it before it could come to a vote after France, Russia, and later China all signaled that they would use their Security Council veto power against any resolution that would include an ultimatum allowing the use of force against Iraq.<ref>"US, Britain and Spain Abandon Resolution", Associated Press, 2003-03-17. Retrieved on 2006-08-06.</ref><ref>"Bush: Iraq is playing 'willful charade'", CNN, 2003-03-07. Retrieved on 2006-08-06.</ref> On March 20, 2003, the invasion of Iraq began. This was claimed by some to be a violation of international law, breaking the UN Charter (see Legitimacy of the 2003 invasion of Iraq).<ref>Oliver King and Paul Hamilos. "Timeline: the road to war in Iraq", Guardian Unlimited, February 2, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-05-25.</ref>

The Iraqi military was defeated, and Baghdad fell on April 9, 2003. On May 1, 2003, U.S. President Bush declared the end of major combat operations, terminating the Baath Party's rule and removing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from office. Coalition forces ultimately captured Saddam Hussein on December 13, 2003.
President Bush meets with his top advisors on March 19, 2003 just before the invasion began

[edit] Political and diplomatic aspects

Since the conclusion of the Gulf War of 1991, Iraq's relations with the UN, the US, and the UK remained poor. In the absence of a Security Council consensus that Iraq had fully complied with the terms of the Persian Gulf War ceasefire, both the UN and the US enforced numerous economic sanctions against Iraq (see, Iraq sanctions) throughout the Clinton administration. The U.S. and the UK patrolled Iraqi airspace to enforce Iraqi no-fly zones that they had declared to protect Kurds in northern Iraq and Shi'ites in the south. The no-fly zone was contested however by Iraqi military helicopters and planes on numerous occasions.<ref>"Iraq tests no-fly zone", CNN.com, January 4, 1999. Retrieved on 2006-05-25.</ref><ref>"Coalition planes hit Iraq sites in no-fly zone", CNN.com, November 28, 2002. Retrieved on 2006-05-25.</ref> The United States Congress also passed the "Iraq Liberation Act" in October 1998 after Iraq had terminated its cooperation with the U.N. in August, which provided $97 million for Iraqi "democratic opposition organizations" in order to "establish a program to support a transition to democracy in Iraq."<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> This contrasted with the terms set out in U.N. Resolution 687,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> all of which related to weapons and weapons programs, and made no mention of regime change. Weapons inspectors had been used to gather information on Iraq's WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) program and to enforce the terms of the 1991 cease fire, which forbade Iraq from developing WMD. The information was used in targeting decisions during Operation Desert Fox, a US and UK bombardment of Iraq in December 1998 which was precipitated by lack of cooperation between Iraq and the UN weapon inspections team.<ref>Gellman, Barton. "U.S. Spied on Iraq Via UN", Washington Post, March 2, 1999, p. A1. Retrieved on 2006-05-25.</ref><ref>"U.S. Spied on Iraq Under UN Cover, Officials Now Say", The New York Times, January 7, 1999. Retrieved on 2006-05-25.</ref>

The United States Republican Party's campaign platform in the U.S. presidential election, 2000 called for "full implementation" of the Iraq Liberation Act and removal of Saddam Hussein with a focus on rebuilding a coalition, tougher sanctions, reinstating inspections, and support for the pro-democracy, opposition exile group, Iraqi National Congress then headed by Ahmed Chalabi.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Upon the election of George W. Bush as president, according to former treasury secretary Paul O'Neill, an attack was planned since the inauguration, and the first security council meeting discussed plans on invasion of the country. O'Neill later clarified that these discussions were part of a continuation of foreign policy first put into place by the Clinton Administration.<ref>"O'Neill: 'Frenzy' distorted war plans account", CNN.com, January 14, 2004. Retrieved on 2006-05-26.</ref>

Notes from aides who were with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in the National Military Command Center one year later, on the day of the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack, reflect that he wanted, "best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit Saddam Hussein at same time. Not only Osama bin Laden." The notes also quote him as saying, "Go massive", and "Sweep it all up. Things related and not."<ref>"Plans For Iraq Attack Began On 9/11", CBS News, Sept. 4, 2002. Retrieved on 2006-05-26.</ref> Shortly thereafter, the George W. Bush administration announced a War on Terrorism, accompanied by the doctrine of 'pre-emptive' military action, termed the Bush doctrine. From the 1990s, U.S. officials have constantly voiced concerns about ties between the government of Saddam Hussein and terrorist activities, notably in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Through the Palestinian Arab Liberation Front (PALF), Saddam had offered $10,000 USD for families of "civilians killed during Israeli military operations" and, $25,000 USD for "families of suicide bombers."<ref>"Palestinians get Saddam funds", BBC News, 13 March, 2003. Retrieved on 2006-05-26.</ref>

In 2002 the Iraq disarmament crisis arose primarily as a diplomatic situation. The Bush administration waited until September 2002 to call for action, with White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card saying "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August."<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> In October 2002, with the "Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq", the United States Congress granted President Bush the authority to "use any means necessary" against Iraq, based on repeated Bush Administration statements to Congress and the public, which turned out to be incorrect, that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. The joint resolution allowed the President of the United States to "defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq and enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq."

In November 2002, United Nations actions regarding Iraq culminated in the unanimous passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1441 and the resumption of weapons inspections. Force was not authorized by resolution 1441 itself, as the language of the resolution mentioned "serious consequences", which the majority of Security Council members argued did not include the use of force to overthrow the government; however the threat of force, as cultivated by the Bush administration, was prominent at the time of the vote. Both the U.S. ambassador to the UN, John Negroponte, and the UK ambassador Jeremy Greenstock, in promoting Resolution 1441, had given assurances that it provided no "automaticity", no "hidden triggers", no step to invasion without consultation of the Security Council.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Such consultation was forestalled by the US and UK's abandonment of the Security Council procedure and their invasion of Iraq. The stated cause by the United Kingdom to forego further UN resolutions was notice supplied by France that they would block any further Security Council resolutions on Iraq.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Negroponte was noted as saying "one way or another, Mr. President, Iraq will be disarmed. If the Security Council fails to act decisively in the event of a further Iraqi violation, this resolution does not constrain any member state from acting to defend itself against the threat posed by Iraq, or to enforce relevant U.N. resolutions and protect world peace and security."

There is still considerable disagreement among international lawyers on whether prior resolutions, relating to the 1991 war and later inspections, permitted the invasion. Richard Perle, a senior member of the administration's Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee, argued in November 2003, that the invasion was against international law, but still justified.<ref>Burkeman, Oliver. "Invasion right but 'illegal', says US hawk", The Age, November 21, 2003. Retrieved on 2006-05-26.</ref><ref>Oliver Burkeman and Julian Borger. "War critics astonished as US hawk admits invasion was illegal", The Guardian, November 20, 2003. Retrieved on 2006-05-26.</ref> At the same time Tony Blair's Attorney General Lord Goldsmith, while concluding that a reasonable case could be made that resolution 1441 required no further resolution of the UN, he could not guarantee that an invasion in the circumstances would not be challenged on legal grounds.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

The United States also began preparations for an invasion of Iraq, with a host of diplomatic, public relations, and military preparations.

See Iraq War - Legitimacy, Failed Iraqi peace initiatives, Views on the 2003 invasion of Iraq and Opposition to the 2003 Iraq War for more detailed discussion.

On October 11, 2002, the United States Congress passed the "Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002", giving U.S. President George W. Bush the authority, under US law, to attack Iraq if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein did not give up his weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and abide by previous UN resolutions on human rights, POWs, and terrorism. On November 9, 2002, at the urging of the United States government, the UN Security Council passed United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441, offering Iraq "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations" that had been set out in several previous resolutions (Resolutions 660, 661, 678, 686, 687, 688, 707, 715, 986, and 1284), notably to provide "an accurate full, final, and complete disclosure, as required by Resolution 687 (1991), of all aspects of its programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles". Resolution 1441 threatened "serious consequences" if these are not met and reasserted demands that UN weapons inspectors that were to report back to the UN Security Council after their inspection should have "immediate, unconditional, and unrestricted access" to sites of their choosing, in order to ascertain compliance. Significantly, the Resolution stated that the UN Security Council shall "remain seized of the matter" (United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441). The Iraqi government did what it was required in the 1441 resolution and presented a report of its weapons. The US government claimed that the report was false for not recognizing having the WMDs. It announced the invasion in the Spring of 2003.

In his March 17, 2003 address to the nation, Bush demanded Hussein and his two sons Uday and Qusay to surrender and leave Iraq, giving them a 48-hour deadline.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> This demand was reportedly rejected.<ref>"Iraq Rejects US Demand That Hussein Leave", Associated Press, March 18, 2003. Retrieved on 2006-05-25.</ref> Iraq maintained that it had disarmed as required. The UN weapons inspectors (UNMOVIC) headed by Hans Blix, who were sent by the UN Security Council pursuant to Resolution 1441, requested more time to complete their report on whether Iraq had complied with its obligation to disarm (UN Security Council Resolution 1441; UNMOVIC). The International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA reported a level of compliance by Iraq with the disarmament requirements (UN Security Council Resolution 1441; IAEA) Hans Blix went on to state the Iraqi government may have been hoping to restart production once sanctions were lifted and inspectors left the country, as speculated by senior Iraqi officials and a prominent defector, Gen. Hussein Kamel.<ref>"Washington Post: Blix Downgrades Prewar Assessment of Iraqi Weapons", Washington Post, June 22, 2003. Retrieved on 2006-06-01.</ref> The attempt of the United Kingdom and the United States to obtain a further Resolution authorizing force failed. Thus, the Coalition invasion began without the approval of the United Nations Security Council, which United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan regarded as a violation of the UN Charter.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> (cf. The UN Security Council and the Iraq war) Several countries protested. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in September 2004, "From our point of view and the UN Charter point of view, it was illegal."<ref>Lynch, Colum. "U.S., Allies Dispute Annan on Iraq War", Washington Post, September 17, 2004, p. A18. Retrieved on 2006-05-25.</ref> Proponents of the war claim that the invasion had implicit approval of the Security Council and was therefore not in violation of the UN Charter. Nevertheless, this position taken by the Bush administration and its supporters, has been and still is being disputed by numerous legal experts. According to most members of the Security Council, it is up to the council itself, and not individual members, to determine how the body's resolutions are to be enforced.<ref>"Iraq war illegal, says Annan", BBC News, 16 September, 2004. Retrieved on 2006-05-25.</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Since 2003, 500 chemical weapons containing mustard or sarin nerve agents have been found. Both of these nerve agents are classified by the United Nations as Weapons of Mass Destruction. According to an unclassified NGIC Report, <ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions consisting mainly of mustard and sarin nerve agents. These are suspected to originate from the first Gulf War, however even degraded chemical warefare agents remain hazardous and potentially lethal.

The invasion is claimed to have been a contributing factor to Muammar al-Gaddafi's decision to disclose and give up his nascent nuclear program.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> However, the existence of such a weapons program is in doubt,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> and some suspect that it suited all involved to exaggerate - or even invent - both the threat posed by the alleged program, and the sacrifice made in abandoning it.

As a response to the imminent invasion, the February 15th anti-war protests were held- the largest of their kind since the Vietnam War. took place with 6-10 million people in over 60 countries around the world.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

The invasion of Iraq had not the support of the UN, as the invasion of Afghanistan had.

See Legitimacy of the 2003 invasion of Iraq for a more detailed analysis of these issues.

[edit] Rationale

In the wake of the September 11 attacks and the apparent success of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the Bush administration felt that it had sufficient military justification and public support in the United States for further operations against perceived threats in the Middle East. The relations between some coalition members and Iraq had never improved since 1991, and the nations remained in a state of low-level conflict marked by American and British air-strikes, sanctions, and threats against Iraq. Iraqi radar had also locked onto and anti-aircraft guns and missiles were fired upon coalition airplanes enforcing the northern and southern no-fly zones, which had been implemented after the Gulf War in 1991.

Throughout 2002, the U.S. administration made it clear that removing Saddam Hussein from power was a major goal, although it offered to accept major changes in Iraqi military and foreign policy in lieu of this. Specifically, the stated justification for the invasion included Iraqi production and use of weapons of mass destruction, alleged links with terrorist organizations, and human rights violations in Iraq under the Saddam Hussein government. Bush and his cabinet repeatedly linked the Hussein government to the September 11th attacks, despite the fact that there was no convincing evidence of Hussein's involvement.<ref> Section 10.3, The 9/11 Commission Report (2004). http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report_Ch10.htm. Retrieved Sep. 10, 2006. </ref> Saddam Hussein refused to allow weapon inspectors to search for weapons of mass destruction and prove that Iraqi government had nothing to hide. Because Hussein reneged on his promise to cooperate with UN weapons inspectors for a second time, the United States and Great Britain began planning air strikes. Giorgio Agamben, the Italian philosopher, has offered a critique of the logic of pre-emptive war.

"The Iraq story boiled over last night when the chief U.N. weapons inspector, Richard Butler, said that Iraq had not fully cooperated with inspectors and--as they had promised to do. As a result, the U.N. ordered its inspectors to leave Iraq this morning"

--Katie Couric, NBC's Today, 12/16/98

"What Mr. Bush is being urged to do by many advisers is focus on the simple fact that Saddam Hussein signed a piece of paper at the end of the Persian Gulf War, promising that the United Nations could have unfettered weapons inspections in Iraq. It has now been several years since those inspectors were kicked out."

--John King, CNN, 8/18/02

At the end of 2002, UN inspection teams returned to Iraq. At the time of the invasion, they had searched for alleged weapons for nearly four months without finding them, and were willing to continue.<ref>Left, Sarah. "Blix wants months - and Straw offers 10 days", Guardian Unlimited, March 7, 2003.</ref><ref>"Transcript of Blix's U.N. presentation", CNN.com, March 7, 2003. Retrieved on 2006-05-25.</ref> However, further delay in military action would have posed problems for an invasion due to seasonally rising temperatures, which would have made use of chemical protection gear unbearable as early as April and risen to around 48C (120F) in the summer.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> President George W. Bush stated that Saddam's weapons of mass destruction needed to be disarmed, and that the Iraqi people were to have control of their own country restored to them.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

However, 18 months after the invasion, in an interview with the BBC "From our point of view and from the Charter point of view it (the war) was illegal."

--Kofi Annan, BBC, September, 2004. [citation needed]

[edit] Military aspects

Image:Iraq map.png
Map of Iraq

United States military operations were conducted under the codename Operation Iraqi Freedom.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The United Kingdom military operation was named Operation Telic.

Approximately 100,000 soldiers and marines from the United States, and 30,000 from the United Kingdom, as well as smaller forces from other nations, collectively called the "Coalition of the Willing", were deployed prior to the invasion primarily to several staging areas in Kuwait. (The numbers when naval, logistics, intelligence, and air force personnel are included were 214,000 Americans, 45,000 British, 2,000 Australians and 2,400 Polish.) Plans for opening a second front in the north were abandoned when Turkey officially refused the use of its territory for such purposes. Forces also supported Iraqi Kurdish militia troops, estimated to number upwards of 50,000. Despite the refusal of Turkey, the Coalition conducted parachute operations in the north and dropped the 173rd Airborne Brigade, thereby removing the necessity of any approval from Turkey. (Later on, during the invasion, it was rumored that Turkey itself had sent troops into the Kurdish part of Iraq.)

The number of personnel in the Iraqi military prior to the war was uncertain, but it was believed to have been poorly-equipped.<ref>"Saddam's Last Line Of Defense", CBS, 2003-03-26. Retrieved on 2006-08-06.</ref><ref>"Saddam counts on Republican Guard as last chance for defending Baghdad", Associated Press, 2003-03-26. Retrieved on 2006-08-06.</ref><ref>Burgess, Mark. "CDI Primer: Iraqi Military Effectiveness", Center for Defense Information, 2002-11-12. Retrieved on 2006-08-06.</ref> The International Institute for Strategic Studies estimated the Iraqi armed forces to number 389,000 (army 350,000, navy 2,000, air force 20,000 and air defense 17,000), the paramilitary Fedayeen Saddam 44,000, and reserves 650,000.<ref>Windle, David. "Military muscle", New Scientist, 2003-01-29. Retrieved on 2006-08-06.</ref> Another estimate numbers the army and Republican Guard at between 280,000 to 350,000 and 50,000 to 80,000, respectively,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> and the paramilitary between 20,000 and 40,000.<ref>"Most loyal soldiers in Iraq belong to Fedayeen Saddam", The Seattle Times, 2003-03-27. Retrieved on 2006-08-06.</ref> There were an estimated thirteen infantry divisions, ten mechanized and armored divisions, as well as some special forces units. The Iraqi Air Force and Iraqi Navy played a negligible role in the conflict.

The controversy around the war in Iraq has caused two American veterans' organizations to form: Vets For Freedom, a pro-war group, and Iraq Veterans Against the War, an anti-Iraq war group.

[edit] Invasion

Image:Iraq invasion map US Army CMH.jpg
The routes taken by the US and British ground forces

Prior to invasion, US-led Coalition forces involved in the 1991 Persian Gulf War had been engaged in a low-level conflict with Iraq, enforcing Iraqi no-fly zones. Iraqi air-defense installations were engaged on a fairly regular basis after repeatedly targeting and firing upon US and UK air patrols. In mid-2002, the US began to change its response strategy, more carefully selecting targets in the southern part of the country in order to disrupt the military command structure in Iraq. A change in enforcement tactics was acknowledged at the time, but it was not made public that this was part of a plan known as Operation Southern Focus.

The tonnage of US bombs dropped increased from 0 in March 2002 and 0.3 in April 2002 to between 7 and 14 tons per month in May-August, reaching a pre-war peak of 54.6 tons in September - prior to Congress' 11 October authorization of the invasion. The September attacks included a 5 September 100-aircraft attack on the main air defense site in western Iraq. According to an editorial in New Statesman this was "Located at the furthest extreme of the southern no-fly zone, far away from the areas that needed to be patrolled to prevent attacks on the Shias, it was destroyed not because it was a threat to the patrols, but to allow allied special forces operating from Jordan to enter Iraq undetected."<ref>Smith, Michael. "The war before the war", The New Statemen, 2005-05-30. Retrieved on 2006-08-06.</ref>

[edit] Opening attack

On March 20, 2003 at approximately 02:30 UTC or about 90 minutes after the lapse of the 48-hour deadline, at 05:33 local time, explosions were heard in Baghdad. There is now evidence that various Special Forces troops from the coalition (led by the Australian SAS but including British SAS, the U.S. Army's Delta Force, U.S. Navy SEALs, U.S. Marine Corps Force Recon and U.S. Air Force Combat Controllers) crossed the border into Iraq well before the air war commenced, in order to guide strike aircraft in air attacks. At 03:15 UTC, or 10:15 p.m. EST, U.S. President George W. Bush announced that he had ordered the coalition to launch an "attack of opportunity" against targets in Iraq. As soon as this word was given the troops on standby crossed the border into Iraq. These troops were led by the 4th bomb disposal unit which at the time had three R.A.F. regiment soldiers from 15th squadron on a tour.

Before the invasion, many observers had expected a lengthy campaign of aerial bombing in advance of any ground action, taking as examples the Persian Gulf War or the invasion of Afghanistan. In practice, US plans envisioned simultaneous air and ground assaults to decapitate the Iraqi forces as fast as possible (see Shock and Awe), attempting to bypass Iraqi military units and cities in most cases. The assumption was that superior Coalition mobility and co-ordination would allow the US-led Coalition to attack the heart of the Iraqi command structure and destroy it in a short time, and that this would minimize civilian deaths and damage to infrastructure. It was expected that the elimination of the leadership would lead to the collapse of the Iraqi Forces and the government, and that much of the population would support the invaders once the government had been weakened. Occupation of cities and attacks on peripheral military units were viewed as undesirable distractions.

Following Turkey's decision to deny any official use of its territory, the US-led Coalition was forced to abandon a planned simultaneous attack from north and south, so the primary bases for the invasion were in Kuwait and other Persian Gulf nations. One result of this was that one of the divisions intended for the invasion was forced to relocate and was unable to take part in the invasion until well into the war. Many observers felt that the Coalition devoted insufficient numbers of troops to the invasion, and that this (combined with the failure to occupy cities) put them at a major disadvantage in achieving security and order throughout the country when local support failed to meet expectations.

Image:Baghdad etm 2003092 lrg.jpg
NASA Landsat 7 image of Baghdad, April 2, 2003. The dark streaks are smoke from oil well fires set in an attempt to hinder attacking air forces.

The invasion was swift, with the collapse of the Iraq government and the military of Iraq in about three weeks. The oil infrastructure of Iraq was rapidly secured with limited damage in that time. Securing the oil infrastructure was considered of great importance to funding the rebuilding of Iraq after the invasion ended. In the Persian Gulf War, while retreating from Kuwait, the Iraqi army had set many oil wells on fire, in an attempt to disguise troop movements and to distract Coalition forces. Prior to the 2003 invasion, Iraqi forces had mined some 400 oil wells around Basra and the Al-Faw peninsula with explosives. The British 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines launched an air and amphibious assault on the Al-Faw peninsula, supported by units of the Special Boat Service Royal Marines and US Navy SEALs during the closing hours of 20th March to secure the oil fields there; the amphibious assault was supported by frigates of the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy. The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, attached to 3 Commando Brigade and Polish GROM attacked the port of Umm Qasr. The British Army's 16 Air Assault Brigade also secured the oilfields in southern Iraq in places like Rumaila while the Polish commandos captured offshore oil platforms near the port, preventing their destruction. Despite the rapid advance of Coalition forces, some 44 oil wells were destroyed and set blaze by Iraqi explosives or by incidental fire. However, the wells were quickly capped and the fires put out, preventing the ecological damage and loss of oil that had occurred at the end of the Persian Gulf War.

In keeping with the rapid advance plan, the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division moved westward and then northward through the western desert toward Baghdad, while the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force moved along Highway 1 through the center of the country, and 1 (UK) Armoured Division moved northward through the eastern marshland.

Initially, the U.S. 1st Marine Division fought through the Rumaila oil fields, and moved north to Nasariyah--a moderate-sized, Shi'ite dominated city with important strategic significance as a major road junction and its proximity to nearby Talil Airfield. The U.S Army 3rd Infantry Division defeated Iraqi forces entrenched in and around the airfield and bypassed the city to the west. On 23 March, U.S Marines and Special Forces units pressed the attack in and around Nasiriyah. During the battle an Air Force A-10 was involved in a case of fratricide that resulted in the death of six Marines.<ref>Lowe, Christian. "Stopping Blue-on-Blue", The Daily Standard, 2003-09-08. Retrieved on 2006-08-07.</ref> Because of Nasiriyah's strategic position as a road junction, significant gridlock occurred as U.S forces moving north converged on the city's surrounding highways. With Nasiriyah and Tallil Airfield secured, U.S. forces gained an important logistical center in southern Iraq, establishing FOB/EAF Jalibah, some 10 miles outside of Nasiriyah through which additional troops and supplies were brought. The 101st Airborne Division continued their attack north behind the 3rd Infantry Division, and the 82nd Airborne Division began to consolidate in and around Tallil airfield for further operations. By 27-28 March, a severe sand storm slowed the U.S advance as the 3rd Infantry Division fought on the outskirts of Najaf and Kufa, with particularly heavy fighting in and around the bridge adjacent to the town of Kifl before moving north toward Karbala.

Further south, the British 7 Armoured Brigade ('The Desert Rats') fought their way into Iraq's second-largest city, Basra, on 6 April, coming under constant attack by regulars and Fedayeen, while the Parachute Regiment cleared the 'old quarter' of the city that was inaccessible to vehicles. Entering Basra had only been achieved after two weeks of conflict, which included the biggest tank battle by British forces since World War II when the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards destroyed 14 Iraqi tanks on 27 March. Elements of 1 (UK) Armoured Division began to advance north towards U.S. positions around Al Amarah on 9 April. Pre-existing electrical and water shortages continued throughout the conflict and looting began as Iraqi forces collapsed. While British forces began working with local Iraqi Police to enforce order, REME (Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers) and Royal Engineers of the British Army rapidly set up and repaired dockyard facilities to allow humanitarian aid began to arrive from ships arriving in the port city of Umm Qasr.

After a rapid initial advance, the first major pause occurred in the vicinity of Karbala. There, U.S. Army elements met resistance from Iraqi troops defending cities and key bridges along the Euphrates River. These forces threatened to interdict coalition logistical supply routes as U.S. forces moved north. By the end of March, elements of the 82nd Airborne Division augmented with a mechanized infantry battalion task force of the U.S. 1st Armored Division began diversionary assaults in and around the city of Samawah in order to divert Iraqi forces that may have otherwise threatened the extended rear of the coalition's lead elements. Meanwhile, the U.S. 101st Airborne Division and infantry elements of the U.S. 1st Marine Division, supported by an armored battalion task force of the 1st Armored division and U.S. Marine and Army air support, attacked and secured the cities of Najaf and Karbala in order to prevent any Iraqi counterattacks from the east. These attacks effectively protected the eastern flank and rear of the 3rd Infantry Division, which allowed the western flank of the invasion to resupply and continue its advance north through the Karbala Gap and on toward Baghdad, where U.S Marine and British forces had already begun a preliminary assault on the outskirts of the city.

[edit] Special Operations

Image:Iraq invasion northern front.gif
The northern front during March and April 2003

The 2nd Battalion of the U.S. 5th Special Forces Group, United States Army Special Forces (Green Berets) conducted reconnaissance in the cities of Basra, Karbala and various other locations.

In the North, the 10th Special Forces Group (10th SFG) had the mission of aiding the Kurdish parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party, de facto rulers of Iraqi Kurdistan since 1991. Turkey had officially forbidden any US troops from using their bases, so lead elements of the 10th had to make certain detours; their journey was supposed to take four hours but instead it took ten. However, Turkey did allow the use of its air space and so the rest of the 10th flew in. The mission was to destroy the bases of the Kurdish islamist group Ansar al-Islam, believed to be linked to Al Qaida.

On March 26, 2003, the 173rd Airborne Brigade augmented the 10th SFG by parachuting into northern Iraq. The 173rd would eventually take responsibility for Kirkuk.

The target was Sargat and after heavy fighting with both groups, the Special Forces finally took Sargat and pushed the remaining units out of Northern Iraq. After Sargat was taken, Bravo Company along with their Kurdish allies pushed south towards Tikrit and the surrounding towns of Northern Iraq. During the Battle of the Green Line, Bravo Company with their Kurdish allies pushed back, destroyed, or routed the 13th Iraqi Infantry Division. Bravo took Tikrit. Iraq was the largest deployment of Special Forces since Vietnam.

[edit] Fall of Baghdad (April 2003)

Three weeks into the invasion, U.S. forces moved into Baghdad. Initial plans were for armored units to surround the city and gradually move in, forcing Iraqi armor and ground units to cluster into a central pocket in the city, and then attack with air and artillery forces. This plan soon became unnecessary, as an initial engagement of armor units south of the city saw most of the Republican Guard's armor assets destroyed and much of the southern outskirts of the city occupied. On 5 April a "Thunder Run" of US armored vehicles was launched to test remaining Iraqi defenses, with 29 tanks and 14 Bradley Armored Fighting Vehicles rushing from a staging base to the Baghdad airport. They met heavy resistance, including many suicidal attacks, but were successful in reaching the airport. Two days later another thunder run was launched into the Palaces of Saddam Hussein, where they established a base. Within hours of the palace seizure, and television coverage of this spreading through Iraq, US forces ordered Iraqi forces within Baghdad to surrender, or the city would face a full-scale assault. Iraqi government officials had either disappeared or had conceded defeat, and on April 9 2003, Baghdad was formally occupied by US forces and the power of Saddam Hussein was declared ended. Much of Baghdad remained unsecured however, and fighting continued within the city and its outskirts well into the period of occupation. Saddam had vanished, and his whereabouts were unknown. Many Iraqis celebrated the downfall of Saddam by vandalizing the many portraits and statues of him together with other pieces of his personality cult. One widely publicized event was the dramatic toppling of a large statue of Saddam in central Baghdad by a US M88 tank retriever, while a crowd of Iraqis cheered the Marines on. During this incident, the Marines briefly draped an American flag over the statue's face. The flag was replaced with an Iraqi flag and the demolition continued.

The fall of Baghdad saw the outbreak of regional violence throughout the country, as Iraqi tribes and cities began to fight each other over old grudges. The Iraqi cities of Al-Kut and Nasiriyah declared war upon each other immediately following the fall of Baghdad in order to establish dominance in the new country, and Coalition forces quickly found themselves embroiled in a potential civil-war. U.S. forces ordered the cities to cease hostilities immediately, and explained that Baghdad would remain the capital of the new Iraqi government. Nasiriyah responded favorably and quickly backed down, however Al-Kut placed snipers on the main roadways into town, with orders that Coalition forces were not to enter the city. After several minor skirmishes, the snipers were removed, but tensions and violence between regional, city, tribal, and familial groups continued into the occupation period.

General Tommy Franks assumed control of Iraq as the supreme commander of occupation forces. Shortly after the sudden collapse of the defense of Baghdad, rumors were circulating in Iraq and elsewhere that there had been a deal struck (a "safqua") wherein the US had bribed key members of the Iraqi military elite and/or the Ba'ath party itself to stand down. In May 2003, General Franks retired, and confirmed in an interview with Defense Week that the U.S. had paid Iraqi military leaders to defect. The extent of the defections and their effect on the war are unclear.

Coalition troops promptly began searching for the key members of Saddam Hussein's government. These individuals were identified by a variety of means, most famously through sets of most-wanted Iraqi playing cards.

On 22 July 2003 during a raid by the U.S. 101st Airborne Division and men from Task Force 20, Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay, and one of his grandsons were killed.

Saddam Hussein was captured on December 13 2003 by the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division and members of Task Force 121 during Operation Red Dawn.

[edit] Other areas

In the north, Kurdish forces opposed to Saddam Hussein had already occupied for years an autonomous area in northern Iraq. With the assistance of U.S. Special Forces and air strikes, they were able to rout the Iraqi units near them and to occupy oil-rich Kirkuk on 10 April.

U.S. special forces had also been involved in the extreme south of Iraq, attempting to occupy key roads to Syria and airbases. In one case two armored platoons were used to convince Iraqi leadership that an entire armored battalion was entrenched in the west of Iraq.

On 15 April, U.S. forces took control of Tikrit, the last major outpost in central Iraq, with an attack led by the Marines' Task Force Tripoli. About a week later the Marines were relieved in place by the Army's 4th Infantry Division.

[edit] Summary of the invasion

Image:AirForce over Iraq.jpg
Aircraft of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing and coalition counterparts stationed together at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, in southwest Asia, fly over the desert. April 14, 2003. Aircraft include KC-135 Stratotanker, F-15E Strike Eagle, F-117 Nighthawk, F-16CJ Falcon, British GR-4 Tornado, and Australian F/A-18 Hornet.

Coalition forces managed to topple the government and capture the key cities of a large nation in only 21 days, taking minimal losses while also trying to avoid large civilian deaths and even high numbers of dead Iraqi military forces. The invasion did not require the huge army build-up like the 1991 Gulf War, which numbered half a million Allied troops. This did prove short-sighted, however, due to the requirement for a much larger force to combat the irregular Iraqi forces in the aftermath of the war.

The Saddam-built army, armed mainly with Soviet-built equipment, was overall ill-equipped in comparison to Coalition forces. Missiles launched from Iraq were either interdicted by U.S. anti-air batteries, or made little to no strategic impact on their targets. Attacks on Coalition supply routes by Fedayeen militiamen were repulsed. The Iraqi's artillery proved largely ineffective, and they were unable to mobilize their air force to attempt a defense. The Iraqi T-72 tanks, the heaviest armored vehicles in the Iraqi Army, were both outdated and ill-maintained, and when they were mobilized they were rapidly destroyed, thanks in part due to the Coalition's air superiority. The U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and Naval Aviation, and British Royal Air Force operated with impunity throughout the country, pinpointing heavily defended enemy targets and destroying them before ground troops arrived.

The main battle tanks (MBT) of the Coalition forces, the U.S. M1 Abrams and British Challenger 2, proved their worth in the rapid advance across the country. Even with the large number of RPG attacks by irregular Iraqi forces, few Coalition tanks were lost and no tank crewmen were killed by hostile fire. The only tank loss sustained by the British Army was a Challenger 2 of the Queen's Royal Lancers that was hit by another Challenger 2, killing two crewmen. All three British tank crew fatalities were a result of friendly fire.

The Iraqi Army suffered from poor morale, even amongst the elite Republican Guard. Entire units disbanded into the crowds upon the approach of Coalition troops, or actually sought Coalition forces out in order to surrender. In one case, a force of roughly 20-30 Iraqis attempted to surrender to a two-man vehicle repair and recovery team, invoking similar instances of Iraqis surrendering to news crews during the Persian Gulf War. Other Iraqi Army officers were bribed by the CIA or coerced into surrendering to Coalition forces. Worse, the Iraqi Army had incompetent leadership - reports state that Qusay Hussein, charged with the defense of Baghdad, dramatically shifted the positions of the two main divisions protecting Baghdad several times in the days before the arrival of U.S. forces, and as a result the units within were both confused and further demoralized when U.S. Marine and British forces attacked. By no means did the Coalition invasion force see the entire Iraqi military thrown against it; Coalition units had orders to move to and seize objective target-points, and could only fire upon regular Iraqi military units if first fired upon. This resulted in most regular Iraqi military units emerging from the war fully intact and without ever having been engaged by US forces, especially in southern Iraq. It is assumed that most units disintegrated to either join the growing Iraqi insurgency or returned to their homes.

According to the declassified Pentagon report, "The largest contributing factor to the complete defeat of Iraq's military forces was the continued interference by Saddam." The report, designed to help U.S. officials understand in hindsight how Saddam and his military commanders prepared for and fought the war, paints a picture of an Iraqi government blind to the threat it faced, hampered by Saddam's inept military leadership and deceived by its own propaganda. According to BBC, the report portrays Saddam Hussein as "chronically out of touch with reality - preoccupied with the prevention of domestic unrest and with the threat posed by Iran."<ref>"Russia denies Iraq secrets claim", BBC News, 2006-03-25. Retrieved on 2006-08-07.</ref>

[edit] Security, looting and war damage

Looting took place in the days following. It was reported that the National Museum of Iraq was among the looted sites. The assertion that US forces did not guard the museum because they were guarding the Ministry of Oil and Ministry of Interior is apparently true.<ref>"US shamed by looting of antiquities", The Scotsman, April 19, 20003.</ref> According to U.S. officials the "reality of the situation on the ground" was that hospitals, water plants, and ministries with vital intelligence needed security more than other sites. There were only enough US troops on the ground to guard a certain number of the many sites that ideally needed protection, and so, apparently, some "hard choices" were made. Also, it was reported that many trucks of purported Iraqi gold and $1.6 billion of bricks of US cash were seized by US forces.

The FBI was soon called into Iraq to track down the stolen items. It was found that the initial claims of looting of substantial portions of the collection were heavily exaggerated. Initial reports claimed a near-total looting of the museum, estimated at upwards of 170,000 pieces. The most recent estimate places the number of looted pieces at around 15,000. Over 5,000 looted items have since been recovered.<ref>Harms, William. "Archaeologists review loss of valuable artifacts one year after looting", The University of Chicago Chronicle, 2004-04-15. Retrieved on 2006-08-07.</ref>

There has been speculation that some objects still missing were not taken by looters after the war, but were taken by Saddam Hussein or his entourage before or during the fighting. There have also been reports that early looters had keys to vaults that held rarer pieces, and some have speculated as to the pre-meditated systematic removal of key artifacts.

The National Museum of Iraq was only one of many museums and sites of cultural significance that were affected by the war. Many in the arts and antiquities communities briefed policy makers in advance of the need to secure Iraqi museums. Despite the looting being lighter than initially feared, the cultural loss of items from ancient Sumer is significant.

More serious for the post-war state of Iraq was the looting of cached weaponry and ordnance which fueled the subsequent insurgency. As many as 250,000 tons of explosives were unaccounted for by October 2004.<ref>"Pentagon: Some explosives possibly destroyed", Associated Press, 2004-10-29. Retrieved on 2006-08-07.</ref> Disputes within the US Defense Department led to delays in the post-invasion assessment and protection of Iraqi nuclear facilities. Tuwaitha, the Iraqi site most scrutinized by UN inspectors since 1991, was left unguarded and may have been looted.<ref>Gellman, Barton. "U.S. Has Not Inspected Iraqi Nuclear Facility", Washington Post, 2003-04-25, p. A14. Retrieved on 2006-08-07.</ref>

Zainab Bahrani, professor of Ancient Near Eastern Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, reported that a helicopter landing pad was constructed in the heart of the ancient city of Babylon, and "removed layers of archeological earth from the site. The daily flights of the helicopters rattle the ancient walls and the winds created by their rotors blast sand against the fragile bricks. When my colleague at the site, Maryam Moussa, and I asked military personnel in charge that the helipad be shut down, the response was that it had to remain open for security reasons, for the safety of the troops."<ref name = Bahrani>Bahrani, Zainab. "Days of plunder", The Guardian, 2004-08-31. Retrieved on 2006-08-07.</ref>

Bahrani also reported that in the summer of 2004, "the wall of the Temple of Nabu and the roof of the Temple of Ninmah, both sixth century BC, collapsed as a result of the movement of helicopters."<ref name = Bahrani /> Electrical power is scarce in post-war Iraq, Bahrani reported, and some fragile artifacts, including the Ottoman Archive, would not survive the loss of refrigeration.<ref name = Bahrani />

[edit] "End of major combat operations" (May 2003)

Image:USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) Mission Accomplished.jpg
The USS Abraham Lincoln returning to port carrying its Mission Accomplished banner
Image:George W Bush on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln.jpg
President George W. Bush on the Abraham Lincoln wearing a flight suit after landing on the aircraft carrier in a military jet.

On 1 May 2003 George W. Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, in a Lockheed S-3 Viking, where he gave a speech announcing the end of major combat operations in the Iraq war. Bush's landing was criticized by opponents as an overly theatrical and expensive stunt. The ship was returning home off the coast of southern California near the San Diego harbor. Clearly visible in the background was a banner stating "Mission Accomplished." The banner, made by White House staff and supplied by request of the U.S. Navy,<ref>Bash, Dana. "White House pressed on 'mission accomplished' sign", CNN, 2003-10-29. Retrieved on 2006-07-21.</ref> was criticized as premature - especially later as the guerrilla war dragged on. The White House subsequently released a statement alleging that the sign and Bush's visit referred to the initial invasion of Iraq and disputing the claim of theatrics. The speech itself noted: "We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We are bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous."<ref>"Text Of Bush Speech", Associated Press, 2003-05-01. Retrieved on 2006-07-21.</ref>

"Major combat" concluding did not mean that peace had returned to Iraq. Iraq was subsequently marked by violent conflict between U.S.-led soldiers and forces described by the occupiers as insurgents. The ongoing resistance in Iraq was concentrated in, but not limited to, an area referred to by Western media and the occupying forces as the Sunni triangle and Baghdad.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Critics point out that the regions where violence is most common are also the most populated regions. This resistance may be described as guerrilla warfare. The tactics in use were to include mortars, suicide bombers, roadside bombs, small arms fire, improvised explosive devices (IED's), and handheld antitank grenade-launchers (RPG's), as well as sabotage against the oil infrastructure. There are also accusations, questioned by some, about attacks toward the power and water infrastructure.

There is evidence that some of the resistance was organized, perhaps by the fedayeen and other Saddam Hussein or Ba'ath loyalists, religious radicals, Iraqis angered by the occupation, and foreign fighters.<ref>"Iraqi attacks could signal wide revolt", The Seattle Times, 2003-07-01. Retrieved on 2006-08-07.</ref> Additionally, as noted above, some (if not most) of the violence immediately following the end of "major combat operations" was due to internal conflicts between groups within Iraq, including but not limited to violence between Sunni and Shi'a Muslims within Iraq over long-standing cultural differences.

[edit] Military decorations

The Medal Of Honor was awarded to Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith for actions in Operation Iraqi Freedom while serving with B Company, 11th Engineer Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division in Baghdad, Iraq. President Bush announced Nov. 10 that Cpl. Jason Dunham, who died more than two years ago after covering a grenade with his helmet to save fellow Marines, will receive the Medal of Honor.

Trooper Christopher Finney of the Blues and Royals was awarded the George Cross for rescuing comrades under fire in a friendly fire incident.

The United States military has created military awards and decorations related to Operation Iraqi Freedom:

NATO also created a military decoration related to Operation Iraqi Freedom:

  • Non-Article 5 NTM-I (NATO Training Mission-Iraq) NATO Medal

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II awarded the first Victoria Cross in 23 years to Private Johnson Beharry, a Grenadan in the 1st Battalion, Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, the highest military decoration for valour in the British and Commonwealth armed forces.

[edit] Casualties

[edit] Related phrases

This campaign featured a variety of new terminology, much of it initially coined by the U.S. government or military. The military's official name for the invasion, "Operation Iraqi Freedom", is rarely used outside the United States. Also notable was the usage "death squads" to refer to fedayeen paramilitary forces. Members of the Saddam Hussein government were called by disparaging nicknames - e.g., "Chemical Ali" (Ali Hassan al-Majid), "Baghdad Bob" or "Comical Ali" (Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf), and "Mrs. Anthrax" or "Chemical Sally" (Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash). Saddam Hussein was systematically referred to as "Saddam", which some Westerners mistakenly believed to be disparaging. (Although there is no consensus about how to refer to him in English, "Saddam" is acceptable usage, and is how people in Iraq and the Middle East generally refer to him.<ref>Shewchuk, Blair. "Words: Woe and Wonder", CBC News Online, February 2003. Retrieved on 2006-07-21.</ref>)

Terminology introduced or popularized during the war include:

  • "Axis of Evil", originally used by President Bush during a State of the Union address on January 29, 2002 to describe the countries of Iraq, Iran and North Korea.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
  • "Coalition of the willing", a term that originated in the Clinton era (e.g., interview, President Clinton, ABC, June 8, 1994), and used by the Bush Administration to describe the countries contributing troops in the invasion, of which the U.S. and UK were the primary members.
  • "Decapitating the regime", a euphemism for either overthrowing the government or killing Saddam Hussein.
  • "Embedding", United States practice of assigning civilian journalists to U.S. military units.
  • "Old Europe", Rumsfeld's term used to describe European governments not supporting the war: "You're thinking of Europe as Germany and France. I don't. I think that's old Europe."
  • "Regime change", a euphemism for overthrowing a government.
  • "Shock and Awe", the strategy of reducing an enemy's will to fight through displays of overwhelming force.

Many slogans and terms coined came to be used by President Bush's political opponents, or those opposed to the war. For example, in April of 2003 John Kerry, the Democratic candidate in the presidential election, said at a campaign rally: "What we need now is not just a regime change in Saddam Hussein and Iraq, but we need a regime change in the United States."<ref>Balz, Dan. "Kerry Angers GOP in Calling For 'Regime Change' in U.S.", The Washington Post, 2003-04-03, p. A10. Retrieved on 2006-07-21.</ref>

[edit] Media coverage

[edit] US Coverage

Around 600 journalists were "embedded" with military units, 80% being British or American. The Pentagon established the policy of "embedding" reporters with military units.

The most popular cable network in the United States for news on the war was Fox News, some of whose commentators and anchors made pro-war comments or disparaged detractors of the war, such as calling them "the great unwashed". Fox News is owned by Rupert Murdoch, a strong supporter of the war. On-screen during all live war coverage by Fox News was a waving flag animation in the upper left corner and the headline "Operation Iraqi Freedom" along the bottom. The network has shown the American flag animation in the upper-left corner since the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack. Fox News' pro-war commentary stood in contrast to many U.S. newspapers' editorial pages, which were much more hesitant about going to war.

On the other hand, Fox, like other western media outlets, did have a number of regular commentators and anchors that were against the war. Western networks, including Fox, also gave some coverage to anti-war protests and rallies, anti-U.S. protests in Iraq, and celebrities and politicians that were against the war. Anti-war celebrities appearing frequently on these news networks included actors Tim Robbins, Mike Farrell, Janeane Garofalo, Martin Sheen, Susan Sarandon and director Michael Moore. Most of these celebrities were able to make anti-war comments in the media and receive little public criticism. However, in a widely publicized story, the country music band Dixie Chicks ignited boycotts and record burnings in the U.S. for their negative remarks about President Bush in a concert in London. <ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

[edit] Independent Coverage

The Media Workers Against the War [2] and the Indymedia [3] network, among many other independent networks including many journalists from the invading countries, provided reports in a way difficult to control by any government, corporation or political party. In the United States Democracy Now, hosted by Amy Goodman has been critical of the reasons for the 2003 invasion and the alleged crimes committed by the US authorities in Iraq.

Australian war artist George Gittoes collected independent interviews with soldiers while producing his documentary Soundtrack To War.

The war in Iraq provided the first time in history that military on the front lines were able to provide direct, uncensored reportage themselves, thanks to blogging software and the reach of the internet. Dozens of such reporting sites, known as soldier blogs or milblogs, were started during the war.[4]

[edit] Coverage in other countries

In some countries television journalists behavior differed significantly during the conflict compared to Gulf War conflicts. Jean-Marie Charon said most journalists were more precautious, using conditional form very often, and citing sources.

The crew of the HMS Ark Royal, Britain's flagship naval vessel, demanded that the BBC be turned off on the ship because of what they saw as a clear anti-Coalition or "pro-Iraq" bias. One BBC correspondent had been embedded on the ship, but the crew said they had no complaints of his reporting specifically. The sailors on board the ship claimed that the BBC gave more credit to Iraqi reports than information coming from British or Allied sources, often questioning and refusing to believe reports coming from Coalition sources while reporting Iraqi claims of civilian casualties without independent verification. The ship's news feed was replaced with Sky News. [5] Ironically, it later emerged from a study conducted by Professor Justin Lewis of the School of Journalism at Cardiff University that the BBC was the most pro-war of British networks, [6]a finding confirmed in a separate study by the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung [7].

Arab media outfit Al Jazeera broadcast many scenes of civilian casualties, usually referring to them as "martyrs", press conferences with Iraqi officials claiming to be winning the war, and of American and British POWs which U.S. media refused to run. Most Arab networks also downplayed the scenes of Iraqi citizens cheering coalition forces entering their towns. Arab networks consistently referred to U.S. and British forces as "invading forces", while Western media referred to them as "coalition forces."

The war in Iraq saw Abu Dhabi TV mature into a credible Al-Jazeera rival. However, the war did not benefit Al-Arabiya, the newest of Arabic news networks. Created by the audio-visual group saoudien MBC to compete with Al-Jazeera (whose tone often displeases Arab leaders), Al-Arabiya was launched on February 19, 2003.

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes and References

<references />

[edit] Additional references

[edit] Further reading

[edit] External links

[edit] Video

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2003 invasion of Iraq

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