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16

DAYS
TO
BAGH
DAD
V CORPS IN THE COMBAT PHASE
OF OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
SOME NOTES AND A SUMMARY
by DR. CHARLES KIRKPATRICK
V CORPS HISTORIAN
Germany, also came under V Corps command in Iraq
The V Corps mission by the time the corps captured Baghdad.

U.S. Army V Corps -- America’s “Victory Corps -- While other V Corps units were deploying to
headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany, delivered the Southwest Asia, the 1st Infantry Division completed a
main attack for U.S. Central Command and the brigade rotation in the NATO Kosovo Force and
Combined Forces Land Component Command deployed units to Turkey to facilitate movement of the
during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. Fighting on 4th Infantry Division through Turkish base areas and
the right flank of V Corps during the war were the into northern Iraq. Eventually, when it became clear
Marines of I Marine Expeditionary Force. that the 4th Infantry Division would enter battle through
southern Iraq, the 1st Infantry Division units in Turkey
The 1st Armored Division, then a permanently returned to Germany and prepared for movement to
maps by V CORPS IMAGING booklet design by V CORPS PUBLIC AFFAIRS visit v corps on the web at: WWW.VCORPS.ARMY.MIL assigned V Corps unit based in Wiesbaden, Iraq.
SPC DANIEL T. DARK
SGT AMY ABBOTT

U.S. ARMY PHOTO


Meanwhile, V Corps’ 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade
and one of its battalions deployed units to Israel and
northern Iraq to guard against the possibility of Iraqi
Scud missile attack on those countries.

Summary of the operation


Between March 19 and May 1, Victory Corps
conducted the longest and fastest armored assault in
the history of warfare, thrusting from the Kuwaiti
border to the center of Baghdad, a straight-line
distance of 540 kilometers, in only 16 days of fighting.
Along the way, V Corps units encountered virtually
every conceivable style of conventional battle. Fighting
ranged from meeting engagements with heavy forces APRIL 15, 2003: Soldiers from V Corps’ 30th Medical Brigade
of the Iraqi army and Republican Guard, to sharp work with Iraqi civilians to deliver medical supplies to Baghdad
guerrilla-like encounters with non-uniformed APRIL 26, 2003: A raft filled with 3rd Infantry Division Soldiers approaches Children’s Hospital.
paramilitary groups, and involved the leading Objective Peach, near Baghdad.
combat elements of the corps and other units of every
type.
APRIL 18, 2003: Soldiers of V Corps’ 38th Engineer Company
Reacting calmly to changing circumstances in Iraq,
APRIL 26, 2003: A convoy carrying the V Corps command post enters Baghdad. construct a bridge near the Tigris River.
Soldiers displayed remarkable adaptability by finding
new tactics, techniques, and procedures to cope

U.S. ARMY PHOTO

CPL THOMAS BRAY


successfully with the style of battle Saddam
Hussein’s forces offered, and then surprising the
enemy by their use of armor in urban warfare.
However heavy the fighting, Victory Corps Soldiers
tempered the violence of their attacks where
necessary and never lost sight of their purpose of
liberating Iraq from a tyrannical government. Combat
Soldiers turned in an instant from fighting to offering
humanitarian aid when that was called for. As Lt. Gen. MARCH 20, 2003: V Corps Commander Lt. Gen. William Wallace
William S. Wallace, the corps commander, put it, (right), corps chief of staff Brig. Gen. Daniel Hahn (left) and assistant
Soldiers quickly “found a way to strike a balance chief of staff Col. David Brown study developments as combat begins.
between giving out Band-Aids and kicking down
doors.” From beginning to end, V Corps’ Operation
the remainder of Iraq and begin rebuilding the country
Cobra II was a bravura performance.
and creating democratic institutions.
While fighting in demanding and difficult terrain and
under terrible weather conditions, including one of the Detailed progress of the battle
worst sandstorms in recent memory, V Corps and its APRIL 18, 2003: Soldiers and M1A1 tanks from V Corps’ 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor patrol MAY 19, 2003: Soldiers of V Corps’ 527th Military
units defeated the 11th Infantry Division of the Iraqi The war began the morning of March 21 when U.S. Kirkuk, Iraq. Police Company detain suspects in a Baghdad raid.
Regular Army; crushed the Medina Republican Guard Central Command’s two corps -- V Corps to the west

SPC DANIEL T. DARK


PFC BRANDON R. AIRD
Division, the Hammurabi Republican Guard Division, and I Marine Expeditionary Force to the east --
and elements of the Adnan Republican Guard crossed the line of departure. The designated main
Division; defeated the Baghdad Republican Guard effort of the coalition, V Corps launched its attack
Division; and annihilated many thousands of irregular across the frontier berms that morning, leading with
and paramilitary forces. Numbers of enemy the 3rd Infantry Division, followed by the 101st
casualties can only be estimated, but certainly were in Airborne Division. The opening maneuver was a
the tens of thousands. strike toward Tallil, where the airfield and Euphrates
River crossing sites were captured. Continuing the
Entering Baghdad, V Corps decisively defeated the advance March 22-23, the divisions moved forward in
Iraqi armed forces and toppled the regime of Saddam heavy fighting toward An Najaf, securing Objective
Hussein. Upon the end of major unit operations, V Raiders near Al Hillah the afternoon of March 23. In
Corps formed Coalition Joint Task Force-7, based in that phase of operations, the boundary between V
Baghdad, and continued military operations to pacify Corps and I MEF shifted to allow the Marines to use
GRAPHIC BY MICHAEL BEATON, V CORPS IMAGING

GRAPHIC BY MICHAEL BEATON, V CORPS IMAGING


U.S. ARMY PHOTO
the Highway 1 bridge over the Euphrates that 3rd
Infantry Division had seized.

At that point, the corps was poised outside the key


terrain of the Karbala Gap which, when taken, would
give access to Baghdad. On the night of March 23, the
11th Aviation conducted a deep attack into the Gap to
destroy artillery and armor of the 14th Mechanized
Brigade of the Medina Division. By the next morning,
operations maps showed V Corps elements had
moved 220 miles in three days, but further major
attacks and all flying were halted March 24 by a three-
day sandstorm that limited visibility to less than 100
meters. Minor offensive operations continued to retain
MARCH 21, 2003: Soldiers of V Corps' 22nd Signal Brigade gather in the initiative, but Wallace took advantage of the pause
the dark Kuwaiti desert for a pre-combat briefing. to consolidate the 3rd Infantry Division around
Objective Rams near An Najaf and prepare it for
further attacks as soon as the weather lifted. Seeking
to improve his logistics stance, Wallace ordered the
daylight, in the wrong direction and became trapped corps to accumulate five days of supplies, and
by V Corps divisions and exposed to daylight attack by replenishment convoys from the 3rd Corps Support
the U.S. Air Force. Moreover, their lines of Detail of principal objectives around Baghdad, and dates siezed. MARCH 31, 2003: Detail of the “five simultaneous battles.”
Command moved painfully forward in the appalling
communication to the south were severed, preventing weather over lengthening lines of communication
reinforcement of Iraqi forces in contact with other V stretching back to Kuwait.
Corps units. It was the tipping point of the campaign, formations continued with great ferocity, but little security mission allowed V Corps to immediately
and only 48 hours later V Corps units began taking coordination and no success. Baghdad International It was during that period that one of the most extend its operational reach into the Karbala Gap.
Saddam Hussein’s capital city. Airport was siezed, followed on April 6-7 by the important operational decisions was reached. Early
incursion of the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division into on March 26, CFLCC Commander Gen. David At the end of the storm, V Corps rapidly continued the
By April 3-4, the encirclement of Baghdad was well Baghdad itself. Successful armed reconnaissance McKiernan released the 82nd Airborne Division (-) to V attack, making five simultaneous, related assaults
under way and regular Iraqi forces appeared to be on into the city by heavy forces convinced commanders Corps control. Wallace immediately tasked the that set the conditions for the eventual entry into
the verge of collapse. V Corps noted little movement the division could return to the city to stay. Thus on division with securing the main supply route, which Baghdad. Early on the morning of March 31, the 3rd
by Iraqi units and remarked on the enemy’s inability to April 7, attacks by the 3rd seized the presidential had been under sporadic but more or less continuous attacked toward the Euphrates River to seize a bridge
coordinate anything larger than platoon-level palace and government buildings and established a attacks by fanatic Fedayeen Saddam, irregular forces between Al Hillah and Karbala and pushed its 3rd
counterattacks. At the same time the corps staff permanent presence in the heart of Baghdad. By that that emerged from towns V Corps had bypassed to Squadron, 7th Cavalry, into the Karbala Gap, while
observed great numbers of Republican Guard point, the heaviest fighting was over and V Corps harass logistics convoys moving north. Having the repositioning its other two brigades to attack through
soldiers deserting their positions. On the other hand, began to transition to the tasks of establishing 82nd to secure the logistics routes meant V Corps the gap and toward Baghdad. At the same time, the
attacks by Fedayeen Saddam and other irregular security and normalcy for the Iraqi people. could send the 101st Airborne Division forward to 101st conducted a demonstration from Objective
clear towns held by the 3rd Infantry Division and, in Jenkins toward Al Hillah and conducted an armed
turn, prepare the 3rd for further attacks into the reconnaissance to the west while the 82nd attacked
Karbala Gap. Assigning the 82nd to the logistics into As Samawah. Those five actions began at 0300
In June 2003, just two months after V Corps led the 130,000 troops from 36 coun- and soon obliged the Iraqis to react by moving the
way to the capture of Baghdad, Coalition Joint Task tries, CJTF-7's mission was Republican Guard into what the V Corps staff believed
MARCH 25, 2003: Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division under were its final defensive positions in front of Baghdad.
Force-7 was formed to replace its predecessor, the to conduct offensive opera-
V Corps command take up firing positions along a road during an
Coalition Forces Land Component Command. tions against anti-Iraqi
enemy approach on their position in southern Iraq. Wallace’s intent had been an attack to retain the
V Corps Commander Lt. Gen. William Wallace forces to secure the nation
assumed command of CJTF-7 until Lt. Gen. and pave the way for the initiative and prevent Iraqi defenses from

SGT IGOR PAUSTOVSKI


Ricardo Sanchez became the corps establishment of a demo- consolidating in front of the corps. The effect,
commander a month later. cratic government, as well however, was serendipitous. The Iraqi commander
as to organize and train the evidently believed the series of attacks constituted a
The initial CJTF-7 staff was Iraqi armed forces to ultimately main effort from west to east across the Euphrates to
comprised primarily of V take on the responsibility for their nation's security. gain Highway 8 and allow a turn northward into
Corps Soldiers, who Baghdad. Thus the effect of the attacks was to draw
served as the operational Eleven months later, on May 15, 2004, CJTF-7 was out and decisively engage the major formations
command element for split into Multi-National Force - Iraq to manage standing between V Corps and the Iraqi capital. Major
coalition forces in Iraq. strategic concerns and Multi-National Corps - Iraq Iraqi troop movements in response to the corps
Composed of more than to oversee day-to-day operations. maneuver set up operational fires, which in turn set
up decisive maneuver over the next two days. In
essence, the Iraqi forces all began moving, in
COMBAT PHASE TIMELINE UNITS COMMANDED BY V CORPS DURING
THE COMBAT PHASE OF OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
(units permanently assigned to V Corps denoted with an asterisk * )

Leading
2002
September 27 UNIT HEADQUARTERS
U.S. forces begin deploying to Kuwait. V Corps Headquarters &
October15 - November 15 Headquarters Company* Heidelberg, Germany

the
V Corps forward command post into theater.
LEGEND
V Corps rear command post in place. V CORPS ATTACKS TO SIEZE BAGHDAD V Corps Special Troops
Battalion (Provisional)* Heidelberg, Germany

Attack
DEPLOYMENTS AFTER CAPTURE OF BAGHDAD
2003 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) Fort Stewart, Ga.
January 3 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Fort Campbell, Ky.
ARFOR-T (elements of 1st Infantry Division) in
place in Turkey. 82nd Airborne Division (-) Fort Bragg, N.C.
February 18
V Corps and 3rd Corps Support Command main 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) Fort Hood, Texas
command posts to Kuwait. 69th Air Defense
Artillery Brigade deploys to Israel and Turkey. 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment Fort Carson, Colo.
March 8
President Bush announces Operation Iraqi 2nd Cavalry Regiment (Light) Fort Polk, La.
Freedom.
173rd Airborne Brigade Vicenza, Italy
March 20-21
Attack across Iraqi border by 3rd Infantry Division 3rd Corps Support Command* Wiesbaden, Germany
reaches Tallil (Objective Firebird) and Euphrates
GRAPHICS BY MICHAEL BEATON, V CORPS IMAGING

River crossing sites (Objective Clay). V Corps Artillery* Schwetzingen, Germany


March 22 -23
Attack continues toward Objective Rams at An 41st Field Artillery Brigade* Babenhausen, Germany
Najaf. 101st Airborne Division enters the fight.
V Corps tactical command post sets up at 214th Field Artillery Brigade Fort Sill, Okla.
Objective Rams. Iraqi irregular forces begin attacks
17th Field Artillery Brigade Fort Sill, Okla.
on main logistics lines. 11th Aviation Regiment
deep attack near Karbala. 11th Aviation Regiment (Attack)* Illesheim, Germany
March 24 - 27 As Samawah
“Mother of All Sandstorms.” 82nd Airborne Division to Baghdad 12th Aviation Brigade* Giebelstadt, Germany
released to V Corps, supported by elements of 2nd
Armored Cavalry Regiment, and committed to Kuwait to 18th Military Police Brigade* Mannheim, Germany
main supply route security. Objectives Jenkins As Samawah
and Floyd, across the river, seized. 18th Personnel Group Fort Bragg, N.C.
March 28 - 30 April 3
3rd Infantry Division turns over fights at As 3rd Infantry Division seizes Objective Saints and 22nd Signal Brigade* Darmstadt, Germany
Samawah and An Najaf to 82nd and 101st Airborne Objective Lions on outskirts of Baghdad. 30th Medical Brigade* Heidelberg, Germany
Divisions and repositions to attack toward April 5 - 7 April 20
Baghdad. 3rd Infantry Division conducts armored reconnais- 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment marches into 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade Fort Bliss, Texas
March 31 sance into Baghdad. V Corps seizes Objective western zone, securing province all the way to
V Corps launches five simultaneous attacks in the Titans, completing outer cordon of Baghdad. Presi- Syrian and Jordanian borders. Construction of 130th Engineer Brigade* Hanau, Germany
vicinity of Objective Murray, near Al Hillah. Attack of dential palace and government buildings captured. Logistical Support Area Anaconda in Balad begins.
3rd Infantry Division toward Objective Peach opens April 7 - 19 April 21 - 24 205th Military Intelligence Brigade* Wiesbaden, Germany
the way to Baghdad. V Corps units “mop up” scattered Iraqi forces. 4th 3rd Infantry Division relieved in Baghdad sector first
April 1 - 2 Infantry Division, with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, by Marines and then by V Corps’ 1st Armored 4th Air Support Operations Group, USAF* Heidelberg, Germany
3rd Infantry Division attacks Objective Chargers to marches to its zone around Taji, Balad, Kirkuk, Division. The 1st Armored Division, a permanently assigned V Corps unit
seize Karbala Gap and isolate town of Karbala, Tikrit, and Samarra. V Corps separate brigades April 28 based in Wiesbaden, Germany, came under V Corps command by
crosses Euphrates river in the direction of Baghdad occupy Balad. 101st Airborne Division marches V Corps main command post fully operational in the time V Corps captured Baghdad.
and seizes Objective Peach. north to assume responsibility for Mosul sector. Baghdad.