|OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
THE "END OF MAJOR COMBAT OPERATIONS"
"End of major combat operations" (May 2003)
On 1 May 2003 George W. Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham
Lincoln, in a Lockheed S-3 Viking, where he gave a speech announcing the
end of major combat operations in the Iraq war. Bush's landing was criticized by
opponents as an overly theatrical and expensive stunt. The ship was returning
home off the coast of southern California near the San Diego harbor. Clearly
visible in the background was a banner stating "Mission Accomplished." The
banner, made by White House staff and supplied by request of the U.S. Navy),
was criticized as premature - especially later as the guerrilla war dragged on.
The White House subsequently released a statement alleging that the sign and
Bush's visit referred to the initial invasion of Iraq and disputing the claim of
theatrics. The speech itself noted: "We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We are
bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous."
"Major combat" concluding did not mean that peace had returned to Iraq. Iraq
was subsequently marked by violent conflict between U.S.-led occupation of
Iraq soldiers and forces described by the occupiers as insurgents. The ongoing
resistance in Iraq was concentrated in, but not limited to, an area referred to by
Western media and the occupying forces as the Sunni triangle and Baghdad.
Critics point out that the regions where violence is most common are also the
most populated regions. This resistance may be described as guerrilla warfare.
The tactics in use were to include mortars, suicide bombers, roadside bombs,
small arms fire, improvised explosive device's (IED's), and rocket propelled
grenade's (RPG's), as well as sabotage against the oil infrastructure. There are
also accusations, questioned by some, about attacks toward the power and
There is evidence that some of the resistance was organized, perhaps by the
fedayeen and other Saddam Hussein or Ba'ath loyalists, religious radicals,
Iraqis angered by the occupation, and foreign fighters. Additionally, as noted
above, some (if not most) of the violence immediately following the end of
"major combat operations" was due to internal conflicts between groups within
Iraq, including but not limited to violence between Sunni and Shi'a Muslims
within Iraq over long-standing cultural differences.
In June of 2005 a new service medal, known as the Iraq Campaign Medal, was
authorized by the United States Department of Defense for service performed
during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The decoration replaced the Global War on
Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, which had previously been issued by Iraq