This is the eighth year of Wreaths Across America, a
nationwide program which distributes holiday wreaths as a tribute
Veterans cemeteries. It is also the 22nd year that the Worcester
Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, will send holiday wreaths
to Arlington National Cemetery. Through this program, company
president Morrill Worcester seeks to recognize Veterans, active
duty military and their families. His goal is to remind the public to
remember the Veterans, honor their service, and teach children the
value of freedom.
The Civil Air Patrol organizes the wreath-laying ceremonies with
assistance from local citizens and Veterans service organizations.
All 131 VA national cemeteries receive at least seven wreaths, one
for each service branch, one for the Merchant Marine and one for
Prisoners of War and those Missing In Action (POW/MIA).
|50 Fifth Avenue
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Part of the War on Terror
Iraq War montage.png
Clockwise from top: Delta Force of Task Force 20 alongside troops of 3rd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, at Uday
Hussain and Qusay Hussein's hideout.; Insurgents in northern Iraq; an Iraqi insurgent firing a MANPADS; the toppling of
the Saddam Hussein statue in Firdos Square.
Date 20 March 2003 – 15 December 2011
(8 years, 8 months, 3 weeks and 4 days)
Invasion and occupation of Iraq
Overthrow of Ba'ath Party government and execution of Saddam Hussein
Insurgency, foreign terrorist operations, and sectarian violence
Subsequent depletion of Iraqi insurgency, improvements in public security
Establishment of democratic elections and formation of new government
U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement
Withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq
Prior to the war, the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom claimed that Iraq's alleged possession of
weapons of mass destruction (WMD) posed a threat to their security and that of their coalition/regional allies.
In 2002, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1441 which called for Iraq to completely cooperate with
UN weapon inspectors to verify that Iraq was not in possession of WMD and cruise missiles. Prior to the attack, the
United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) found no evidence of WMD, but could not
yet verify the accuracy of Iraq's declarations regarding what weapons it possessed, as their work was still unfinished.
The leader of the inspectors, Hans Blix, estimated the time remaining for disarmament being verified through inspections
to be "months".
After investigation following the invasion, the U.S.‑led Iraq Survey Group concluded that Iraq had ended its nuclear,
chemical and biological programs in 1991 and had no active programs at the time of the invasion, but that they intended
to resume production if the Iraq sanctions were lifted. Although some degraded remnants of misplaced or
abandoned chemical weapons from before 1991 were found, they were not the weapons which had been one of the
main arguments for the invasion. Paul R. Pillar, the CIA official who coordinated U.S. intelligence on the Middle East
from 2000 to 2005, said "If prewar intelligence assessments had said the same things as the Duelfer report, the
administration would have had to change a few lines in its rhetoric and maybe would have lost a few member's votes in
Congress, but otherwise the sales campaign—which was much more about Saddam's intentions and what he "could" do
than about extant weapons systems—would have been unchanged. The administration still would have gotten its war.
Even Dick Cheney later cited the actual Duelfer report as support for the administration's pro-war case." George J.
Tenet, the former director of central intelligence, stated Vice President Dick Cheney and other Bush administration
officials pushed the country to war in Iraq without ever conducting a "serious debate" about whether Saddam Hussein
posed an imminent threat to the United States.
Some U.S. officials also accused Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of harboring and supporting al-Qaeda, but no
evidence of a meaningful connection was ever found. Other stated reasons for the invasion included Iraq's
financial support for the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, Iraqi government human rights abuses, and an
effort to spread democracy to the country.
On 16 March 2003, the U.S. government advised the U.N. inspectors to leave their unfinished work and exit from Iraq.
 On 20 March the American-led coalition conducted a surprise military invasion of Iraq without declaring war.
 The invasion led to an occupation and the eventual capture of President Hussein, who was later tried in an Iraqi
court of law and executed by the new Iraqi government. Violence against coalition forces and among various sectarian
groups soon led to the Iraqi insurgency, strife between many Sunni and Shia Iraqi groups, and the emergence of a new
faction of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
In June 2008, U.S. Department of Defense officials claimed security and economic indicators began to show signs of
improvement in what they hailed as significant and fragile gains. Iraq was fifth on the 2008 Failed States Index,
and sixth on the 2009 list. As public opinion favoring troop withdrawals increased and as Iraqi forces began to take
responsibility for security, member nations of the Coalition withdrew their forces. In late 2008, the U.S. and Iraqi
governments approved a Status of Forces Agreement effective through 1 January 2012. The Iraqi Parliament also
ratified a Strategic Framework Agreement with the U.S., aimed at ensuring cooperation in constitutional rights, threat
deterrence, education, energy development, and other areas.
In late February 2009, newly elected U.S. President Barack Obama announced an 18-month withdrawal window for
combat forces, with approximately 50,000 troops remaining in the country "to advise and train Iraqi security forces and to
provide intelligence and surveillance". UK forces ended combat operations on 30 April 2009. Iraqi Prime
Minister Nouri al‑Maliki said he supported the accelerated pullout of U.S. forces. In a speech at the Oval Office on 31
August 2010 Obama declared "the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and
the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country." Beginning 1 September 2010,
the American operational name for its involvement in Iraq changed from "Operation Iraqi Freedom" to "Operation New
Dawn". The remaining 50,000 U.S. troops were designated as "advise and assist brigades" assigned to non-combat
operations while retaining the ability to revert to combat operations as necessary. Two combat aviation brigades also
remain in Iraq. In September 2010, the Associated Press issued an internal memo reminding its reporters that
"combat in Iraq is not over", and "U.S. troops remain involved in combat operations alongside Iraqi forces, although U.S.
officials say the American combat mission has formally ended".
On 21 October 2011, President Obama announced that all U.S. troops and trainers would leave Iraq by the end of the
year, bringing the U.S. mission in Iraq to an end. On 15 December 2011, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta
officially declared the Iraq War over, at a flag lowering ceremony in Baghdad. The last U.S. troops left Iraqi territory
on 18 December 2011 at 4:27 UTC.
Since the U.S. military's withdrawal, significant violence has continued in Iraq, as Sunni militant groups have stepped
up attacks targeting the country's majority Shia population to undermine confidence in the Shia-led government and its
efforts to protect people without American backup.
"Operation Desert Storm"
Persian Gulf War
Gulf War Photobox.jpg
Clockwise from top: USAF F-15Es, F-16s, and a USAF F-15C flying over burning Kuwaiti oil wells; British troops from
the Staffordshire Regiment in Operation Granby; camera view from a Lockheed AC-130; Highway of Death; M728
Combat Engineer Vehicle
Date 2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991
(6 months, 3 weeks and 5 days)
(Operation Desert Storm officially ended on 30 November 1995)
Location Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Israel
Result Decisive Coalition victory
Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait; Emir Jaber III restored
Sanctions against Iraq
Heavy casualties and destruction of Iraqi and Kuwaiti infrastructure
Establishment of Iraqi no-fly zones
IThe Gulf War (2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991), codenamed Operation Desert Storm (17 January 1991 – 28
February 1991) was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States against
Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.
The war is also known under other names, such as the Persian Gulf War, First Gulf War, Gulf War I, or the First Iraq
War, before the term "Iraq War" became identified instead with the 2003 Iraq War (also referred to in the U.
S. as "Operation Iraqi Freedom"). Kuwait's invasion by Iraqi troops that began 2 August 1990 was met with
international condemnation, and brought immediate economic sanctions against Iraq by members of the U.N. Security
Council. U.S. President George H. W. Bush deployed U.S. forces into Saudi Arabia, and urged other countries to send
their own forces to the scene. An array of nations joined the Coalition, the biggest coalition since World War II. The
great majority of the Coalition's military forces were from the U.S., with Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and Egypt as
leading contributors, in that order. Saudi Arabia paid around US$36 billion of the US$60 billion cost.
The war was marked by the beginning of live news on the front lines of the fight, with the primacy of the U.S. network
CNN. The war has also earned the nickname Video Game War after the daily broadcast images on board
the U.S. bombers during Operation Desert Storm.
The initial conflict to expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait began with an aerial bombardment on 17 January 1991. This was
followed by a ground assault on 24 February. This was a decisive victory for the Coalition forces, who liberated Kuwait
and advanced into Iraqi territory. The Coalition ceased their advance, and declared a cease-fire 100 hours after the
ground campaign started. Aerial and ground combat was confined to Iraq, Kuwait, and areas on Saudi Arabia's border.
Iraq launched Scud missiles against Coalition military targets in Saudi Arabia and against Israel.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 passed in April 1991 established formal cease-fire terms. The
controversies over enforcing this and subsequent resolutions would lead to the outbreak of another war 12 years later.
The War in Afghanistan
(2001–present) refers to the intervention by NATO and allied forces in the Afghan political struggle, following the
terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, to dismantle the al-Qaeda terrorist organization and to remove from power the
Taliban government, which at the time controlled 90% of Afghanistan and hosted al-Qaeda leadership. U.S. President
George W. Bush demanded that the Taliban hand over Osama bin Laden and expel the al-Qaeda network which was
supporting the Taliban in its war with the Afghan Northern Alliance. The Taliban recommended that bin Laden leave the
country but declined to extradite him without evidence of his involvement in the 9/11 attacks. The
United States refused to negotiate and launched Operation Enduring Freedom on 7 October 2001 with the United
Kingdom and later joined by Germany and other western allies, to attack the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces in
conjunction with the Northern Alliance.
The U.S. and allies drove the Taliban from power and gradually built new military bases near major cities across the
country. However, most al-Qaeda and Taliban members escaped to neighboring Pakistan or retreated to rural or
remote mountainous regions. In December 2001, the U.N. Security Council established the International Security
Assistance Force (ISAF), to oversee security in the country and train the Afghan National Security Forces. At the Bonn
Conference in December 2001, Hamid Karzai was selected to head the Afghan Interim Administration, which after a
2002 loya jirga in Kabul became the Afghan Transitional Administration. In the popular elections of 2004, Karzai was
elected the president of the new permanent Afghan government, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
In 2003, NATO assumed leadership of ISAF, included troops from 43 countries, with NATO members providing the core
of the force. Only a portion of U.S. forces in Afghanistan operate under NATO command; the rest remained under
direct American command. Mullah Omar reorganized the Taliban movement and in 2003 launched insurgency against
the Afghan government and ISAF forces. Though vastly outgunned and outnumbered by NATO forces and the
Afghan National Army, the Taliban insurgents, most notably the Haqqani Network and Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, have
waged asymmetric warfare with guerilla raids and ambushes in the countryside, suicide attacks against urban targets,
and turncoat killings against coalition forces. The Taliban exploited the weak administration of the Afghan government,
among the most corrupt in the world, to reassert influence across rural areas of southern and eastern Afghanistan.
NATO countries responded in 2006 by increasing troops for operations to "clear and hold" villages and "nation
building" projects to "win hearts and minds".
While NATO forces continued to battle the Taliban insurgency, the war expanded into neighboring North-West Pakistan.
 In 2004, the Pakistani Army began to clash with local tribes hosting al-Qaeda and Taliban militants. The U.S.
military launched drone attacks in Pakistan in order to kill leaders of the insurgent groups. This resulted in the start of
an insurgency in Waziristan in 2007.
On 2 May 2011, U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad, Pakistan. About three weeks later, NATO
leaders endorsed an exit strategy for removing their soldiers from Afghanistan. In the meantime, UN-backed peace talks
got under way between the Afghan government and the Taliban. As of 2013, tens of thousands of people were
killed in the war, mostly militants and ordinary civilians. In addition, over 4,000 ISAF soldiers and civilian contractors as
well as over 10,000 Afghan National Security Forces also died.