Invasion of Iraq

FRONTLINE marks the first anniversary of the Iraq war with a two-hour documentary investigation that recounts the key strategies, battles, and turning points of the war from both sides of the battlefield. Through firsthand accounts from many of the war's key participants -- from strategists in Washington to the soldiers who actually fought the battles -- "The Invasion of Iraq" promises to be a definitive television history of America's most recent war.

Operation Iraqi Freedom - NBC News Documentary - 2003




War in Iraq: Day by day guide (BBC News)

Interview: James Fallows
Interview: Frederick Kagan
Interview: Todd Purdum
Interview: Thomas Ricks
Interview: Thomas White
Interview: Iraqi general Al-Hamdani
Interview: Lt. Gen. James Conway
Interview: Lt. Gen. David McKiernan
Interview: Lt. Col. Marcone
Interview: Col. David Perkins
Interview: Lt. Gen. William Wallace



Readings and Links

One section of this screen offers several different timelines of the invasion:
a. CNN
b. New York Times
c. Washington Post
d. BBC
e. Global Security

Invasion chronology

March 6
Two weeks before he would launch the invasion of Iraq, President Bush announces at a press conference that time is running out on the UN inspections process and on Saddam Hussein

March 17
President Bush delivers his final ultimatum: "Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to go will result in military conflict commenced at a time of our choosing."

Coalition troops, massed in the Persian Gulf on the eve of the invasion, fully expect an Iraqi chemical attack as they near Baghdad. 200,000 ground troops, almost all of them American and British, are backed by an armada of ships in the Gulf and hundreds of Navy and Air Force warplanes.

At the insistence of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the ground force is only half the size of the force that ejected Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991.

March 20
The invasion begins. General Franks's ground war plan is for the Army's 5th Corps to cross the Iraq-Kuwait border and attack Baghdad from the desert west of the Euphrates.

The Marine Corps will attack through the inhabited areas east of the river, by heading toward Nasiriya to cross the Eurphates and make a parallel advance.

The British, with support from U.S. Marines, will secure Iraq's second city, Basra.

Secretary Rumsfeld is upbeat, convinced the Iraqi people will assist the invasion: "There will be Iraqis who offer not only to help us but to help liberate the country and to free the Iraqi people. More of them there are, the greater the chance that the war will be limited and less broad."

March 21
The coalition launches its bombing campaign in Baghdad against Saddam's palaces and ministries. The spectacle is designed to convince the Iraqi people that it is safe to overthrow the regime.

American commanders advancing across the Kuwait border report Iraqi regular forces are simply falling apart, taking off uniforms and disappearing among the civilian population.

March 22
By nightfall in Iraq, the forward elements of the 3rd Infantry are over 150 miles inside Iraq and roughly halfway to Baghdad.

March 23
A unit from the 507th Maintenance Company supporting the U.S. Army's advance takes a wrong turn in the pre-dawn darkness and stumbles into Nasiriya behind enemy lines. Jessica Lynch, among others, is taken prisoner.

March 25
By now, there have been more setbacks: A brutal three-day sandstorm has been swirling across southern Iraq and Fedayeen fighters are leaving the cities and attacking supply lines of the lead units. Five days into the invasion, the American advance on Baghdad stalls.

Back in Washington, retired generals have been appearing on television and commenting that the war is not going as well as it should because there are not enough combat forces on the ground.

March 28-29
The American army prepares to attack Baghdad. Lead units will have to funnel through a mile-wide gap between a lake and the city of Karbala -- the so- called Karbala Gap -- and then assault across the Euphrates towards Baghdad.

April 3-4
Troops from the 3rd Infantry reach Saddam International Airport on the western outskirts of Baghdad.

But the Americans aren't yet ready for the final assault on Baghdad.

April 5
At dawn, in a surprise armed reconnaissance raid into Baghdad, Col. David Perkins's 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry makes the first "Thunder Run" into the city, driving straight up Highway 8 and taking intense fire.

The Americans encounter morning traffic and many Iraqi defenders are dressed in civilian clothes. American troops are not always successful in distinguishing fighters from civilians. By late morning the Americans have sliced through Baghdad's south-western suburbs and arrive safely back at the airport.

April 6
In Baghdad U.S. Marines now join the American 5th Corps and are given the job of storming the east of the city. Marine commanders anticipate serious resistance, but the Iraqi army is retreating in chaos.

April 7
A second "Thunder Run" is made by Col. Perkins. He decides to head straight downtown for Saddam's palaces, spreading panic among the Iraqi defenders.

Colonel Perkins spends the night in Saddam's palace. Nineteen days after crossing the Kuwait border, less than a week after the breakthrough at the Karbala Gap, the Americans have penetrated to the very heart of the regime.

April 8-9
U.S. forces secure Baghdad after final desperate resistance by Fedayeen and Ba'ath Party militias who are fighting almost alone. The regular Iraqi Army soldiers don't fight or even surrender en masse, as the Americans hoped; they simply go home.

Late in the afternoon of April 9, in Baghdad's Firdos Square, the statue of Saddam Hussein is pulled down.

American columns continue to roll into Baghdad. But there are few of the triumphal scenes Americans had hoped for. The people of Baghdad are wary, suspicious. And as in Basra, looting spreads quickly.

April 11
Television images of looting and chaos dominate American newscasts in the days following Baghdad's fall. At a briefing this day, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld reacts bitterly to suggestions the military is not in control of the situation and in a statement dealing with looting, says, "… freedom's untidy and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things…."

After a few days of inaction, U.S. troops begin cracking down on looters.

April 16
General Tommy Franks, the commander of the invasion, flies into Baghdad to congratulate the American commanders on their swift victory over Saddam Hussein.

But in the weeks that follow, a violent insurgency grows against coalition forces.

May 1
President Bush lands on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln off the coast of California and announces the official end of combat operations in Iraq.