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23 Days to Baghdad: U.S. Marine Aviation Combat Element in Iraq, 2003


This book adds to the examination of U.S. Marines in the Global War on Terrorism and depicts a chronology of Marine aviation events and achievements in Operation Iraqi Freedom during 2003. This publication describes the uniqueness of a scalable Marine air-ground task force and clearly demonstrates its benefits when the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing formed an aviation combat element to better support the ground maneuver element during the rapid 23-day march to Baghdad. In the period leading up to Operation Iraqi Freedom, our nation expressed a Pearl Harbor–like sentiment that stemmed from the deliberate 11 September 2001 attack on American soil, with parallels between Japanese pilots and the more contemporary terrorist hijackers who took control of civilian airliners. Defense strategists had begun drawing a plausible connection between the 9/11 attacks and Saddam Hussein’s suspected arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, thus fueling increased multinational support for an offensive against Iraq. Given this mindset along with military direction, Major General James F. Amos began preparing 3d Marine Aircraft Wing in August 2002 for an air campaign based on ground scheme maneuvers that would logistically and operationally challenge the Marine aviation community— once again. In this book, you will read accounts of Marines of all ranks and from all squadrons performing similar acts during Operation Iraqi Freedom. This holds true, particularly during the Opening Gambit, the Battle of an-Nasiriyah, the rescue of Jessica D. Lynch, and the Task Force Tripoli prisoner-of-war recovery mission. In retrospect, the aviation combat element strategy allowed the air wing to operate as a separate maneuver element with Marines controlling Marine aircraft in a joint arena. Ultimately, Iraqi combatants were forced to make two basic choices—remain in position and fight or flee and become a convenient target of opportunity.

214 pages

Categories: All Books, Iraq


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