Iraqi Freedom: America’s Most Recent War

The United States, like many countries, is no stranger to conflict. We’ve seen it within our own country during its infancy, and we’ve fought in conflicts on foreign shores – all to protect the freedom and democracy our nation is known for. But in 2001, after a long period of relative peace, we found ourselves, once again, in a position where the military was called upon to protect Americans’ freedom.

On September 11th, 2001, a massive terrorist attack was carried out in the United States. Two planes were hijacked and flew into the World Trade Center in New York City. Shortly afterward, another plane crashed into the Pentagon. Thousands of innocent Americans were murdered that day, and the entire country was shaken beyond belief. This attack would become the catalyst for a years-long military engagement known as “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

What Caused the Iraq War?

In the weeks following 9/11, it was suspected that the dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, had ties to al-Qaeda. That same terrorist organization would later claim responsibility for the hijackings that took place on September 11th, 2001. Both the United States and the United Kingdom had expressed great concern over whether Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction.

In October 2002, the US Congress Iraq War Resolution cited many of these factors formally, including:

  • Iraq’s “brutal repression of its civilian population” and Hussein’s government’s atrocious human rights violations.
  • Iraq’s “capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people.”
  • Members of al-Qaeda were known to be taking refuge within Iraq.

The UN adopted the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441 on November 8th, 2022. Under this resolution, Hussein was given “a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations” that had been laid out in the resolutions. Hussein was given a deadline to disarm and leave Iraq or face the consequences of war. He did not comply.

The First Day of the War in Iraq

On March 20th, 2003, Operation Iraqi Freedom began with preemptive airstrikes on Hussein’s Presidential Palace, along with a number of key military targets. U.S. fighter pilots and warships stationed in the Person Gulf began firing Tomahawk cruise missiles into Baghdad and the surrounding military bases. These airstrikes were quickly followed by 67,700 “boots on the ground,” accompanied by 15,000 Navy men and women on ships throughout the area.

Within five weeks, military forces had destroyed the Hussein regime and captured the capital city of Baghdad. However, the invasion of Iraq was far from over. Not long afterward, al-Qaeda-inspired insurgents flooded into Iraq and launched guerilla warfare attacks against U.S. troops.

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Capturing Saddam Hussein and Establishing Democracy

With his regime in shambles and many of his supporters dead or captured, Hussein remained in hiding. After a long and arduous manhunt, U.S. forces found Hussein on December 13th, 2003, in a deep hole just miles from his hometown. A soldier there described him as “a man resigned to his fate”, as Hussein was apprehended without resistance. He was subsequently arrested and tried for a litany of war crimes and human rights violations.

In June of 2004, the provisional government that had been in place following the fall of Hussein’s regime transferred power to the Iraqi Interim Government. In January 2005, the Iraqi people democratically elected 275 citizens to make up the Iraqi National Assembly. The assembly ratified a new constitution as Hussein’s trials began to take place.

Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death by hanging after being convicted of countless crimes against humanity and was executed on December 30th, 2006, at an Iraqi military base appropriately named “Camp Justice.” The U.S. would later go on to declare an end to the war in Iraq on December 15th, 2011, almost ten years after the fighting began.

The 20th Anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom

There is much more to this conflict than can be appropriately and respectfully covered in a single article. Countless battles were fought, and countless lives were lost. Soldiers from the United States of America, as well as those from the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, Spain, and Poland, fought and died in the name of liberating the Iraqi people from their oppressors. 

Iraqi Freedom: America's Most Recent War

As in every war, the members of our armed forces saw and endured challenges that most of us can’t imagine. One thing we do know is that many people are grateful for the sacrifices the men and women of our military made in order to stand up against tyranny. If you or a loved one served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, we salute you. For this 20th anniversary, commemorate your sacrifice or the sacrifices of your loved one(s) with one of our many Iraq War patches.

Patches like the Multi-National Corps Patch Iraq (color), Operation Iraqi Freedom Patch Mission Accomplished, and Armed Forces Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran Patch, are excellent ways to remember the time served and honor those who lost their lives fighting for democracy. Browse our inventory today for hundreds of Iraq War hat and jacket patches.

Multi-National Corps Patch Iraq Color
Operation Iraqi Freedom Patch Mission Accomplished
Armed Forces Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran Patch
f Iraq War hat and jacket patches


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