This is the story of the Marine Corps in the major combat phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). It tells how the Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) planned and prepared for war in 2002 and deployed to theater in early 2003, and then how it crossed the line of departure and fought its way to Baghdad—and beyond. Written by Marine Corps historian Col. Nicholas Reynolds, this first overview of the history of OIF is solidly grounded in oral history interviews and buttressed by official reports and firsthand journals. It describes not only the execution of the original plan but some of the unusual additions carried out by the Marines, including a small mission sent to Kurdistan to work with local fighters and a task force sent to seize Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. The book draws to a close with the commanders analyzing the lessons learned in this "transformational" war as the last Marine left the theater in the fall of 2003.
While not intended as finished history, this authoritative analysis of what happened will prove useful to students of Marine Corps history and operations and easily accessible to the general reader who wants to understand what the Marines did in a historical context. It is certain to stimulate further research and healthy debate. Comprehensive notes are included for the reader who wants to learn more about a particular part of the war.