Iraq Theater of Operations
Overview of the 2003 War against Iraq

From BBC News website on May 22, 2003

The US-led campaign to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein began early on 20 March, when air strikes rocked the capital Baghdad

Ground forces invaded from Kuwait. UK troops concentrated on taking Basra, while US troops moved on towards Baghdad in two main pushes - the marines from the south-east and the 3rd Infantry from the south-west

Fierce resistance was encountered in some towns such as Nasiriya, but forces eventually captured Baghdad's airport after fighting their way in on 3 April, then pushed on into the capital

Baghdad fell on 9 April, and the focus of the war moved to northern Iraq. US-backed Kurdish forces quickly took control of Kirkuk and Mosul, before the final key target, Saddam Hussein's hometown Tikrit, fell to US forces on 14 April

Operation Iraqi Freedom May 22, 2003

At 9:34 PM EST on March 19, 2003 (5:34 AM local time in Baghdad on March 20), United States and United Kingdom forces consisting of 40 cruise missiles and strikes led by 2 F-117s from the 8th Fighter Squadron (supported by Navy EA-6B Prowlers) and other aircraft began conducting military operations against the state of Iraq designed to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction and to remove the Iraqi Regime from power. Less than two hours after a deadline expired for Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq, the sound of air raid sirens were heard in Baghdad. A short time later, President Bush addressed the American public stating that coalition forces were in the "early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger."

The name of this Operation for British troops is Operation Telic. For Australian Troops involved, it is Operation Falconer.

The military objectives of Operation Iraqi Freedom consist of first, ending the regime of Saddam Hussein. Second, to identify, isolate and eliminate, Iraq's weapons of mass destruciton. Third, to search for, to capture and to drive out terrorists from the country. Fourth, to collect intelligence related to terrorist networks. Fifth, to collect such intelligence as is related to the global network of illicit weapons of mass destruction. Sixth, to end sanctions and to immediately deliver humanitarian support to the displaced and to many needed citizens. Seventh, to secure Iraq's oil fields and resources, which belong to the Iraqi people. Finally, to help the Iraqi people create conditions for a transition to a representative self-government.

Operation Iraqi Freedom consisted of the largest special operations force since the Vietnam War. While the vast majority of special operations forces were American, the United Kingdom and the Australian militaries also provided forces. In northern Iraq there was a significant special operations presence. Coalition personnel worked with Kurdish fighters against the regime. SOF helped bring in the 173rd Airborne Brigade, and marked and called in coalition air power on regime targets. Special operations forces were also responsible for attacking a number of specific targets such as airfields, weapons of mass destruction sites, and command and control headquarters. In the south, special operations personnel gave aid to conventional forces and did some of the work in the cities to help the Shi'ia elements.