Operation Iraqi Freedom Day occurs on March 19 annually. It falls on the anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the day when the United States, along with coalition forces primarily from the United Kingdom, initiated war on Iraq in 2003. It is also known as the Second Persian Gulf War. The United States invaded Iraq and aimed to destroy Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and end the dictatorial rule of Saddam Hussein. An insurgency emerged to oppose the coalition forces and the post-invasion Iraqi government which resulted in the conflict continuing for much of the next decade.
History of Operation Iraqi Freedom Day
In March 2003 the United States initiated war on Iraq. Hostilities began when Saddam Hussein refused to leave Iraq. U.S. aircraft dropped several bombs on a bunker complex in which the Iraqi president was believed to be hosting meetings with his senior staff. This was followed by a series of airstrikes and within days U.S. forces invaded Iraq.
This war was a result of the George W. Bush administration’s War on Terror which followed the September 11 attacks. Hussein went into hiding soon after the American invasion, speaking to his people only through audiotape. It took the coalition forces only three weeks to topple his regime and capture Iraq’s major cities. President Bush declared the end of major combat operations in May of that year.
This was the first of a two-phase war. The second was longer in which a U.S.-led occupation of Iraq was opposed by an insurgency. This war caused at least 155,000 deaths, in addition to the displacement of more than 3.3 million people within the country. Two years later in 2005, after an intense manhunt, U.S. soldiers found Saddam Hussein hiding in Tikrit. He was arrested and the trial began.
In June 2004 power was transferred to the Iraqi Interim Government and the next year in January 2005, the Iraqi people elected a 275-member Iraqi National Assembly. In October a new constitution for the country was ratified. There were no weapons of mass destruction found and the U.S. declared an end to the war in 2011, nearly 10 years after the fighting began.
Operation Iraqi Freedom Day timeline
The first C.I.A team, the Special Activities Division, enters Iraq on July 10.
At 5:34 a.m. Baghdad time on March 19, 2003 (9:34 pm, 19 March E.S.T.) the military invasion of Iraq begins.
Three weeks after the invasion, major combat operations end, and the statue of Saddam in Baghdad's Firdos Square is pulled down.
An order disbanding the Iraqi army and intelligence services is signed by the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III.
U.S. troops find Saddam Hussein.
Hussein is convicted of crimes against humanity and is executed on December 30, 2006.
Operation Iraqi Freedom Day FAQs
What was the purpose of Operation Iraqi Freedom?
This was a U.S. coalition that aimed to oust Saddam Hussein and eliminate his ability to use weapons of mass destruction.
Is Operation Iraqi Freedom still going on?
On December 31, 2014, Operation Enduring Freedom concluded and was succeeded by Operation Freedom’s Sentinel on January 1, 2015.
What are the dates for Operation Iraqi Freedom?
March 20, 2003, to December 15, 2011.
How to Observe Operation Iraqi Freedom Day
Visit a museum
Spend the day at a museum and learn more about this period in American history. Learn about the legacies of those who fought for freedom and justice.
Have a movie night
Invite your friends and spend the evening watching movies that focus on the war and its history. You’re sure to be spoilt for choice.
Share on social media
Create a conversation online. Help share awareness of this day and its meaning.
5 Interesting Facts About Operation Iraqi Freedom
It was led by General Tommy Franks
The U.S. forces were led by General Tommy Franks.
The first Prime Minister was Ayad Allawi
The first prime minister of the new government of Iraq was Ayad Allawi and he stepped down after one year in office.
It was given a new name
Operation Iraqi Freedom was renamed Operation New Dawn in September 2010.
The number of dead is uncertain
There are numerous estimates, one made in late 2006 put the total at more than 650,000, but many other estimates put the figures at about 40,000 to 50,000.
There were mixed reactions to the war
Several antiwar protests occurred in American cities but many opinion polls showed support for military action against Iraq before and during the war, and as the war continued more Americans turned against it.
Why Operation Iraqi Freedom Day is Important
It is a time for reflection
It allows us to reflect on a significant historical period of our time. It is a time to observe and mourn for the lives lost.
It occurred fairly recently
The war was fairly recent. We can relate to the information and have some knowledge of the events.
It is educational
By observing and honoring this day we brush up on history and other interesting information about our country. Remembering the wrongs of the past can help us prevent them from occurring in the future.
Operation Iraqi Freedom Day dates