Afghanistan and Iraq (OEF & OIF)

Published in USA Military

Afghanistan:  Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) / Iraq: Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the United States responded by deploying military personnel in Southwest Asia. By January 2002, more than 30,000 active duty were involved and additional reserve personnel continue to be called to duty. 

As a result of Iraq’s refusal to comply with United Nations’ mandates, U.S. began deploying troops to the Gulf region in late 2002.  Coalition forces subsequently won a decisive victory against the forces under the regime of Saddam Hussein, during April 2003, in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).  Coalition forces remain in Iraq today as part of ongoing peacekeeping/nation-building activities.  

Currently, as part of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), U.S. troops are on the ground in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and neighboring countries of the former Soviet Union.  

Afghanistan - Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)
On September 11, 2001 the United States of America was the victim of a series of suicide bombings. Nineteen  members of a terrorist organization boarded commercial passenger airplanes, hijacked them, and subsequently crashed them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and into the Pentagon.  Following the attacks, it was discovered that Al-Qaeda, an extremist Islamic militant group, was responsible for these acts of violence. Osama Bin Laden, the terrorist group’s leader, was rumored to be hiding in Afghanistan, where he trained and armed men to perform terrorist acts.  While 15 of the 19 people accused of the hijackings were from Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan was chosen as a battle ground because it housed many terrorist training grounds and was a meeting place for terrorists around the world.   

The United States government immediately responded to these acts of terrorism by giving Afghanistan an ultimatum. The Taliban did not comply with the demands of the ultimatum and on October 7, 2001 Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) was launched.  The stated goals of OEF became ousting the Taliban regime, which was harboring Al-Qaeda, capturing and prosecuting Osama Bin Laden and other leaders of Al-Qaeda, and permanently destroying Al-Qaeda’s organizational capacities.  The first objective, removing the Taliban from governmental power, was easily accomplished by a joint effort of US and British forces.   Also, several top leaders of Al-Qaeda have been found and either prosecuted or killed.  The remaining goals have proved much more difficult because the nature of the warfare has turned to counterinsurgency. Since the Taliban was eradicated, a power vacuum has been created which is being filled by US forces and the International Assistance Security Force (ISAF).  US officials fear that if they leave this power vacuum will be filled with counterinsurgents and Afghanistan will once again become a safe haven for terrorists.  The United States remains in Afghanistan, and is likely to remain until a strong central government, capable of enforcing stability, can be established.   

Iraq - Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Iraq War
The United States, with the aid of Great Britain, launched Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 20, 2003.  Prior to the conflict there was speculation as to whether or not Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD).  In 2002, The United Nations Security Council, demanded full access from the Iraqi government to ensure that they possessed no weapons of mass destruction.  The United Nations found no verification of weapons of mass destruction when they searched Iraq, but evidence was said to be inconclusive.   

After OIF began, the search for WMD continued, but no such weapons were ever found.  Another justification for Operation Iraqi Freedom was that Saddam Hussein had ties to Al-Qaeda and coordinated the September 11th terrorist attacks with the organization.  No evidence of a connection was ever found between Hussein and Bin Laden or Al-Qaeda.  The last justification for the attack was that the people of Iraq were being oppressed by Hussein, and The United State’s goal was to free these civilians.  Due to the controversial nature of the invasion justification, the Iraq war was protested against in many European countries.

Despite the controversy surrounding the entrance into the war, the initial attack was very successful.  With the help superior weapons, technology, and leadership the U.S. military, with the help of their British allies, quickly and soundly defeated the Iraqi military.  Saddam Hussein and his brothers went into hiding and Hussein was later found, tried, and executed.    

Once the official Iraqi military was defeated, insurgents began fighting U.S. troops who they felt were wrongfully occupying their country. Old religious tensions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims were ignited and violence continued. Iraq is still unstable and The United States remains in the country for purposes of security and nation building. U.S. officials want to make sure that the new Iraqi government will be capable of retaining stability and that the insurgents will not come into power when troops leave.  Recently there has been improvement in the situation; the Iraqi government is taking increasingly more responsibility for security measures and daily governance.  In 2009 U.S. President Barack Obama laid out a withdrawal plan, which would tentatively have U.S. forces out of the country by the end of 2011.  

Learn more about Unique Health Risks for OEF/OIF.

OEF/OIF Related Resources

U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs (link is external) - Information about OEF/OIF.  

Hazardous Exposure (link is external) - Information on chemical, radiation, physical and environmental hazards during military service, possible health-related problems and VA benefits.  

Returning Service Members (OEF/OIF) (link is external)Benefits information for returning services members from OEF/OIF.  

Iraq War Veterans' Illnesses (link is external)Information about health problems associated with military service during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn and related VA benefits. 

Afghanistan War Veterans' Illnesses (link is external)-  Information about health problems associated with military service during Operation Enduring Freedom and related VA benefits. 

Hepatitis C Virus Research and Education (link is external) – Information about Hepatitis C Virus.  

Veterans Health Initiative (link is external)Independent study courses to help health providers care for their Veteran patients. 

National Center for PTSD (link is external) - The Center aims to help U.S. Veterans and others through research, education, and training on trauma and PTSD.  

Women Veterans Health Care (link is external) – Information about and answers to some of the most freq (link is external)


For more information please visit: http://www.wehonorveterans.org/veterans-their-needs/needs-war-or-trauma/afghanistan-and-iraq-oef-oif


Experiencing War - Hispanic in Service

Published in USA Military

Experiencing War - Hispanic in Service

Stories from the Veterans Hispanic Project

Whatever their individual backgrounds before they came to serve their country, the Hispanics in these collections all found opportunities without impediments by donning the uniforms of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. Some, like Joseph Medina, came from a family with a rich military background; others, like Eva Jacques or Raymond Ayon, were students enticed with the notion that their country needed them. None expressed that even a hint of prejudice marked their experiences, a remarkable testimony to the democratic ideal of military service.

For more information visit this link: http://www.loc.gov/vets/stories/ex-war-hispanicveterans.html


SUBASE MWR unveils new Family Fitness Center

By MC2(AW/SW) Kristina Young 

GROTON, Conn. -  Military and family members with young children have a new option at Naval Submarine Base New London (SUBASE) when it comes to finding time for fitness and a safe place for a youngster to await their workout completion.

Families joined SUBASE and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Department (MWR) leadership in celebrating the ribbon-cutting and grand-opening of the base’s new Family Fitness Center, Oct. 8.  Located on the third floor of Building 83, the new Family Fitness Center is adjacent to the base’s Body Works Fitness Center.

 “This center was a suggestion by some of our family members who wanted to have a safe area to bring their children while working-out and directly watching over them,” said Capt. Carl Lahti, SUBASE commanding officer. “As we help DoD pilot the Healthy Base Initiative (HBI), creating this room, and the opportunity it offers, was more than the right thing to do.”

Promoting fitness and healthy lifestyles has been a goal since SUBASE was selected as one of 13 installations to pilot HBI last year. Under DOD’s Operation Live Well, which is aimed at increasing the health and wellness of the total force, including civilians and family members, the HBI pilot program is aimed at helping DOD gather information about current practices, best practices, and new opportunities.


Veterans Day - November 11

In the USA, Veterans Day annually falls on November 11. This day is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice, which ended the World War I hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany in 1918. Veterans are thanked for their services to the United States on Veterans Day.


Veterans day

Veterans Day honors those who served the United States in all wars, especially veterans.

©iStockphoto.com/Jess Wiberg


Veterans Day is intended to honor and thank all military personnel who served the United States in all wars, particularly living veterans. It is marked by parades and church services and in many places the American flag is hung at half mast. A period of silence lasting two minutes may be held at 11am. Some schools are closed on Veterans Day, while others do not close, but choose to mark the occasion with special assemblies or other activities.

Veterans Day is officially observed on November 11. However, if it falls on a week day, many communities hold their celebrations on the weekend closest to this date. This is to enable more people to attend and participate in the events. Federal Government offices are closed on November 11. If Veterans Day falls on a Saturday, they are closed on Friday November 10. If Veterans Day falls on a Sunday, they are closed on Monday November 12. State and local governments, schools and non-governmental businesses are not required to close and may decide to remain open or closed. Public transit systems may follow a regular or holiday schedule.


On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations came into effect. On November 11, 1919, Armistice Day was commemorated for the first time. In 1919, President Wilson proclaimed the day should be "filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory". There were plans for parades, public meetings and a brief suspension of business activities at 11am.

In 1926, the United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I and declared that the anniversary of the armistice should be commemorated with prayer and thanksgiving. The Congress also requested that the president should "issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples."

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) was approved on May 13, 1938, which made November 11 in each year a legal holiday, known as Armistice Day. This day was originally intended to honor veterans of World War I. A few years later, World War II required the largest mobilization of service men in the history of the United States and the American forces fought in Korea. In 1954, the veterans service organizations urged Congress to change the word "Armistice" to "Veterans". Congress approved this change and on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor all American veterans, where ever and whenever they had served.

In 1968 the Uniforms Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) made an attempt to move Veterans Day to the fourth Monday of October. The bill took effect in 1971. However, this caused a lot of confusion as many states disagreed with this decision and continued to hold Veterans Day activities on November 11. In 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which stated that Veterans Day would again be observed on November 11 from 1978 onwards. Veterans Day is still observed on November 11.

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