U.S. and coalition forces invaded Iraq 13 years ago today, kicking off a war that would last until the end of 2011.
President George W. Bush had given Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein an ultimatum to cede power and leave the country by early-morning Mar. 20, 2003. American forces stepped off the line of departure 90 minutes after the clock ran out.
Photo: US Air Force Tech. Sgt. John L. Houghton, Jr.
The initial invasion ran from Mar. 20 to May 1 and was an unqualified success. While Saddam Hussein managed to escape into hiding, his forces put up little resistance. U.S. and allied forces were able to capture the entire country with little damage to infrastructure. American troops were pushing into Baghdad and walking American flags through palaces owned by Saddam by early April, just weeks after the invasion began.
Of course, things got more complicated after that, to put it mildly. Sectarian violence and a brutal insurgency against the new government of Iraq and the coalition forces would drag out the war for another 8 years.