Suspected al Qaeda terrorists hijack American planes and crash into New York City's Twin Towers, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a barren field in Pennsylvania - ultimately killing thousands of Americans, which begins President George W. Bush's campaign to eliminate terrorism worldwide.
President Bush makes his State of the Union speech, and establishes Iraq, along with Iran and North Korea, as an "axis of evil." He promises that the United States "will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons."
A coordinated anti-Afghanistan war protest involving all major coalitions attempt to "Stop the War at Home and Abroad." Some 75,000 to 120,000 protesters gather.
UN Blockades Iraq
The UN Security Council anylizes and readmits the 11-year-old sanctions against Iraq, which begins a new list of procedures for processing contracts for humanitarian supplies and equipment. The United States, by way of the sanctions committee, is now preventing $5 billion of material from entering Iraq.
UN General Assembly
New York City
President Bush makes his address at the opening of the UN General Assembly, challenging the body to "confront the grave and gathering danger of Iraq, or become irrelevant."
National Security Strategy
President Bush releases his administration's National Security Strategy, which leans towards a conservative military approach. Bush's new strategy states that "the United States will exploit its military and economic power to encourage free and open societies." His release also prioritizes that the U.S. Army's military influence is not to be challenged, as it was during the Cold War.
Congress authorizes Iraq control
A joint resolution is adopted by Congress that authorizes the use of force against Iraq, and gives the Bush administration chargeable reasoning to wage explicit military action against Iraq.
UN Security Council approves arms inspections
New York, NY
Resolution 1441 is unanimously approved by the UN Security Council. The resolution creates stiff new arms inspections for Iraq, which also means "serious consequences" if Iraq decides not to cooperate.
Under direction and ultimate supervision of the Interational Atomic Energy Agency and UN members, weapons inspections resume.
Iraq pleads weapons innocence
Iraqi officials submit a 12,000-page declaration on Iraq's chemical, biological, and nuclear activities, declaring it has no "weapons of mass destruction" (WMD).
On International Human Rights Day, while chanting such themes as, "Let the inspectors work," demonstrators in more than 150 U.S. cities oppose a war with Iraq.
Chief UN Weapons Inspector Hans Blix states, "Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament that was demanded of it." President Bush then receives a letter the same day, which is signed by 130 members of the House of Representatives encouraging him to "let the inspectors work."
Bush threatens Iraq without UN's approval.
President Bush makes his State of the Union address, and states that "Saddam Hussein is not disarming." Bush indicates that he is ready to invade Iraq with UN approval or not.
UN inspection report
Chief inspecter Hans Blix reports to the UN that Iraq is beginning to cooperate with inspections.
The largest day of peace protests in world history is coordinated, affirming that "The World Says No to War." Antiwar demonstrators in than 600 cities participate.
Iraq ordered to destroy missiles
Blix orders Iraq to destroy its Al Samoud 2 missiles by March 1, 2003.
New York City
Under Resolution 1441, the U.S., the U.K., and Spain submit a proposed resolution to the UN Security Council stating that Iraq has not cooperated sufficiently with inspectors, and military force is now required. France, Germany, and Russia do not agree with the resolution for war and request a more intense inspection process to avert a war with Iraq.
Iraq cooperates with inspectors
Iraq begins to destroy its Al Samoud 2 missiles.
City council resolution
New York, N.Y.
New York City passes a city council resolution opposing a war against Iraq, joining more than 150 other U.S. cities. Councilman Alan Gerson states, "We, of all cities, must uphold the preciousness and sanctity of human life."
February 24 - March 14
The United States and Great Britain's intense lobbying efforts among UN Security Council (UNSC) members yields support only from Spain and Bulgaria. With little support for war, the U.S. decides not to call for a vote on war with Iraq.
UN unresolved/Bush gives ultimatum
New York City, N.Y.
Diplomacy for Iraq has ended, and weapons inspectors quickly evacuate. President Bush warns Saddam and his sons to leave Iraq or else war is coming.
The beginning of the Iraq "decapitation attack" gets under way when the United States launches Operation Iraqi Freedom. The first air strike pin-points Saddam Hussein and other top officials in Baghdad.
Continued air strikes
A second round of air strikes in Baghdad is launched by the U.S. Ground troops of the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, the U.S. 3rd Division and 1st Marine Expeditionary Force invade southern Iraq from Kuwait. British air and ground attacks begin to take control of Iraq's Faw Peninsula while U.S. Marines begin to "pepper" the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr. Pentagon officials state that the "shock and awe" operations have been temporarily halted to assess the initial bombing damage.
Baghdad heavily targeted
The shock-and-awe bombing strategy by the Americans resumes with intense air strikes on Baghdad and the outlining cities of Tikrit, Mosul, and Kirkuk. Iraq's 8,000-man unit of the 51st Army Division surrenders to coalition forces at the Southern Iraq border.
U.S. troops advance/Heavy air strikes
U.S.-led coalition troops advance more than 150 miles into Iraqi territory and cross the Euphrates River using existing bridges. Heavy U.S. air strikes, accompanied by both manned and unmanned aircraft, continue a brutal punishment in Iraq with more than 1,500 sorties flown.
Marines ambushed in Nasiriya
An Iraqi ambush, using massive artillery, inflicts heavy casualties on U.S. Marines in the city of Nasiriya.
Now within 60 miles of Baghdad, coalition troops encounter much stronger resistance from Iraqi soldiers and paramilitary fighters in such towns as Nassiriya and Basra. Two Apache helicopter pilots are taken prisoner in the area. Coalition helicopters and planes continue to carpet bomb a path for ground troops to advance into Baghdad.
U.S. and British gaining ground
Conceivably the biggest firefight of the war. Some 200 Iraqis are killed by U.S.-led coalition forces in the Euphrates Valley east of Najaf. U.K. troops stomp a "mud hole" into a battalion-sized counterattack by Iraqi forces southeast of Basra. Coalition deaths in Iraq climb to 43.
173rd Airborne Brigade secures airfield
1,000 U.S. paratroopers from the U.S. Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade take control of an airfield in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. The airfield will allow for more troop deployment, as well as humanitarian supplies to be delivered to the suppressed people.
Iraqi troops fire on innocent civilians
Iraqi troops fire on thousands of civilians trying to flee Basra. Three U.S. Marine infantry battalions occupy the northern and southern parts of Nasiriya. The longest helicopter-borne air assault operation in history takes place as hundreds of coalition soldiers are dropped into numerous cities surrounding Baghdad.
Heated firefight for Nasiriya
Along the Euphrates River, U.S. Marines and Iraqi fighters exchange heavy munitions for occupation of Nasiriya.
Massive U.S. bombing
The U.S. increases air strikes against Suddam's Republican Guard troops south of Baghdad some 800 strike sorties in one of the most intense days of bombing in the 11-day war.
U.S. forces surround Baghdad/Pfc. Jessica Lynch is rescued
In the official beginning of the battle of Baghdad, U.S. forces begin a major ground offensive against Republican Guard divisions south of the capital. Fighting also heats up in Karbala. U.S. Marines attack Iraqi militia units in Nasiriya. The U.S. 4th Infantry Division arrives in Kuwait City with 5,000 troops. Nineteen-year-old U.S. Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch, missing since March 23 after an Iraqi ambush near Nasiriya, is rescued.
U.S. troops close in on Baghdad
U.S. troops are nearing Baghdad after beating back Iraqi Republican Guard units in what one officer calls a quick-moving battle. The U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division engaged the Republican Guard near Karbala, and with "little effort," capture the city. Also, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force takes on the Republican Guard's Baghdad Division (Saddam's elite), and capture a bridge crossing the Tigris River. Other Marines in Nasiriya continue their block-to-block sweeps for pestering Iraqi militia.
U.S.-led coalition forces mop up remaining resistance in surrounding Baghdad cities
Southwest of Iraq's capital, U.S.-led coalition forces target ground and air attacks on Saddam International Airport. The 3rd Infantry Division pushes through the Karbala Gap, as soldiers with the division's 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment and the 3rd Brigade Combat Team continue a relentless assault. Also, the 1st Battalion of the 7th Marines secure two locations on the outskirts of Kut. The 101st Airborne Division takes control of Najaf and isolated Iraqi loyalists in the area. Near the southern city of Samawa, the 82nd Airborne Division launches a surprise attack on paramilitary forces attempting to organize north of the city. British forces begin a two-day artillery and rocket barrage on Iraqi forces around Basra and Zubayr.
Kurdish militia take Khazar; Republican Guard troops surrender
U.S. forces now hold Baghdad's airport, 12 miles outside the city center, but they are still facing sporadic resistance. Approximately 2,500 Iraqi soldiers with the Republican Guard's Baghdad Division have surrendered to U.S. Marines between Kut and Baghdad. In northern Iraq, Kurdish forces easily capture the town of Khazar.
U.S. swarms Baghdad
With the airport secure, U.S. forces now drive into the heart of downtown Baghdad with intermittent resistance. The U.S. Army's V Corps, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and 1st Battallion, 7th Marines, also move into Baghdad. As the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force progresses into the capital city, they emerge victorious from "hand-to-hand" combat with an Iraqi infantry unit.
With highways strategically "locked down," U.S.-led coalition forces (including U.S. Army reconnaissance) encircle Baghdad and engage pockets of Iraqi resistance. Under cover of darkness, a C-130 Hercules transport plane brings troops and equipment to the capital's airport - the first coalition plane to land at the Baghdad airport since the Americans take control of it.
Coalition forces topple Saddam Husein statue and advance farther into Baghdad
U.S. air strikes target a building with senior Iraqi officials in it. American tanks crunch their way into Baghdad and seize two of Saddam Hussein's palaces while pushing over a huge statue of the Iraqi dictator. The U.S. Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade unleashes a downpour of heavy artillery upon Iraqi forces in northern Iraq. Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, is taken by British forces, where they set up a base. "Chemical Ali," Saddam's first cousin, is found dead in Basra. Iraqi militia (some disguised in women's clothing) ineffectively ambush a U.S. Marine platoon in Diwaniyah.
Resistance in Baghdad subsides/Coalition forces still encounter resistance in outlining cities
Three weeks into the war, coalition forces are now moving at will within and around Baghdad; however, pockets of Saddam's regime linger on. Fifty miles south of Baghdad, in the town of Hillah, units with the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division engage in a heated battle with Iraqi forces with help from U.S. tanks, helicopters and air support, the 101st manages to dominate the firefight.
Iraqi citizens loot Baghdad/Iraqi troops still offer resistance
Following days of coalition bombing, hundreds of celebrating Baghdad citizens loot the city. U.S. Marines are attacked at Baghdad University after initially being greeted by happy citizens three hours earlier. Iraqi defense forces are reinforced at the birthplace of Saddam in the town of Tikrit.
Medium Iraqi resistance
Units of the U.S. 173rd Airborne Brigade progress into Tikrut after the Kurdish forces take the city. Iraq's 5th Corps surrender to U.S. and Kurdish forces outside Mosul; however, resistance from Iraqi forces surrounding Mosul and Tikrit lingers. At a U.S. Marine checkpoint in Baghdad, a Saddam loyalist with explosives strapped to his body blows himself up wounding four marines.
Militia bus intercepted/Town of Mosul signs cease-fire
A bus heading west out of Iraq, carrying 59 males, is stopped by Australian Special Forces. The fleeing Iraqis had approximately $6,000,000 and literature stating that more money would be presented to them if more American casualties occurred. U.S.-led coalition troops encounter heavy Iraqi resistance near a Syrian border town. Also, the commander of the Iraqi Army's 5th Corps signs a cease-fire in Mosul.
Marines deploy for uncontrolled city of Tikrit/Town of Kut is controlled by coalition forces
Divisions of the U.S. 1st Marine Expeditionary Unit leave Baghdad for Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, one of the few Iraqi cities not under coalition control. Citizens of Kut, about 40 miles southeast of Baghdad, peacefully welcome U.S. Marines as the city comes under coalition control following talks between Kut civic leaders and U.S. officials.
Fighting begins inside Tikrit
U.S. Marines stage an offensive attack inside of Tikrit on approximately 2,500 Iraqi fighters faithful to dethroned Iraqi leader Saddam Hussen. U.S. General Tommy Franks publicly announces that Iraq is now an "ex-regime;" however, just short of calling the war a victory. Iraqi militia and sporadic terrorism constitute what remains.
Marines control Tikrit
Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit is mopped-up by U.S. Marines. With lighter resistance than expected, Marines establish checkpoints throughout the city.
U.S. forces advance into central Baghdad. In following days, Kurdish fighters and U.S. forces take control of the northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul. There is widespread looting in the capital and other cities.
Compliance in Baghdad
In the battered streets of Baghdad, tens of thousands march, calling for an Islamic state. The demonstration is Baghdad's largest gathering since the arrival of U.S. forces.
Major combat operations end
Only 43 days after announcing the start of the war in Iraq, Bush announces to the nation on live television that major combat operations in Iraq have ended. Bush also states that "the toppling of Saddam Hussein's government was one victory in a war on terror that began on September 11th, 2001, and still goes on." His live speech was given from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.
New U.S. diplomat deployed
Because of increased looting, lawlessness, and violence in Iraq, former civil administrator, Jay Garner, is replaced by diplomat and former chief of the counter-terrorism department at the U.S. State Department, Paul Bremer.
Thousands of Shi'a and Sunni Muslims protest peacefully in Baghdad against the U.S.-led occupation.
New resolution for Iraq
New York, N.Y.
The UN Security Council approves a resolution acknowledging U.S./U.K. as occupying powers in Iraq and lifts sanctions.
Self-rule in provincial cities becomes a problem. U.S. military commanders order a halt to local elections, and hand pick mayors and administrators themselves. Ironically, many of the hand-picked officials are former Iraqi military leaders fresh off the battlefield.
War cost estimate
The cost of U.S. forces in Iraq tops $3.9 billion a month, double that previously reported, and not including funds for reconstruction or relief. 140,000 U.S. troops will remain in Iraq for the "foreseeable future."
Iraq drafts new constitution
Iraq's temporary governing council, composed of 25 Iraqis, are appointed by U.S. and British officials, as what is known as Iraq's interim governing council. These Iraqis are given the authority to name ministers and will ultimately draw up a new constitution for the battered country. U.S. civil administrator Paul Bremer remains under supervisory control of the new constitution being created.
U.S. casualties continue to rise
U.S. combat deaths in Iraq reach 147, the same number of soldiers who died from hostile fire in the first Gulf War. Of the total, 32 occur after May 1, the officially declared end of combat.
Uday and Qusay killed
Suddam's sons, Uday and Qusay Hussein, are killed in a gun battle.
A truck bombing of (UN) headquarters in Baghdad kills 20, severely wounds many more, which provokes questions about the UN's future role in rebuilding Iraq. Among the dead is Sergio Vieira de Mello, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Saddam is located
Saddam Hussein is found hiding in an underground bunker and is captured.
Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq by Stephen Kinzer. "Regime change" did not begin with the administration of George W. Bush, but has been an integral part of U.S. foreign policy for more than one hundre... Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward. Plan of Attack is the definitive account of how and why President George W. Bush, his war council and allies launched a preemptive attack to topple Sa... Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman by Jon Krakauer. Like the men whose epic stories Jon Krakauer has told in his previous bestsellers, Pat Tillman was an irrepressible individualist and iconoclast. In M... State of Denial by Bob Woodward. "Insurgents and terrorists retain the resources and capabilities to sustain and even increase current level of violence through the next year." This w... Decision Points by George W. Bush. In one of the most arresting memoirs of a United States president, Richard Nixon focused his story on the crises that defined his early career. George... House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power by James Carroll. In House of War, the best-selling author James Carroll has created a history of the Pentagon that is both epic and personal. Through Carroll we see ho... Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran. The Green Zone, Baghdad, 2003: in this walled-off compound of swimming pools and luxurious amenities, Paul Bremer and his Coalition Provisional Author... The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq by George Packer. As the death toll mounts in the Iraq War, Americans are agonizing over how the mess started and what to do now. George Packer, a staff writer at The N...