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Shock & Awe: The Invasion Begins, March–May 2003


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Focus On: Iraq


Shock & Awe: The Invasion Begins, March–May 2003


By: Col. Darron L. WrightDate:March19 , 2013


On March 19, 2003, bombs were descending on Baghdad and throughout Iraq. Thousands of Tomahawk cruise missiles and other precision-guided munitions littered the night sky, launched nearly simultaneously from U.S. attack bombers flying overhead and Navy ships and submarines positioned in the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea, as if Xerxes himself had once again amassed his Persian archers in the valley, firing arrows to blot out the sun in his quest to conquer Greece and eliminate the Spartans at Thermopylae in 480 B.C.


Within hours of the operation commencing at approximately 2215 hours eastern time, President Bush addressed the nation from the Oval Office:


“My fellow citizens. At this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages Scissors-32x32.png

Following President Bush’s address, at approximately 2200 hours EST (0600 hours in Baghdad) on March 20, 2003, the ground invasion of Iraq, led by U.S. Army General Tommy Franks, CENTCOM Commander, began under the codename “Operation Iraqi Liberation,” later renamed to “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” U.S., U.K., and Australian Forces, combined with forty other nations, formed the “coalition of the willing” led by the United States. They participated by providing troops, equipment, security, and special forces, with the United States providing 248,000 soldiers. Another 45,000 from the United Kingdom, 2,000 from Australia, and 194 Polish special operation forces were staged in Kuwait on D-Day. The invasion force also was supported by Iraqi Kurdish militia troops, estimated to number upward of about 70,000. Scissors-32x32.png


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