Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Iraq: Ten years later

TOM ROEDER Updated: March 15, 2013 at 12:00 am

2003

MAY

Pfc. Jesse Givens dies when his tank rolls off a crumbling embankment near a Ramadi drainage ditch. He’s the first Fort Carson casualty of the Iraq War. Meanwhile, the jubilation in Iraq at the fall of Saddam Hussein begins to splinter into insurgency.

President George W. Bush announces the end of “major combat operations.”

JUNE

Fort Carson soldiers are responsible for large swaths of Iraq, including areas north and west of Baghdad. The 5,200-soldier 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment is sent to western Iraq where it patrols cities including Ramadi. The 3rd Brigade Combat Team is sent north of Baghdad, where it controls areas including the city of Samarra. The insurgency is heating up. One Fort Carson unit reports 15 attacks in six days.




AUGUST

It was supposed to be a short war. While the 1991 Persian Gulf War was just 100 hours of ground combat, this battle with Iraq will continue for the foreseeable future. Fort Carson soldiers who expected to be home by August will be in Iraq for another six months on their first tours.

SEPTEMBER

The number of wounded continues to rapidly climb. Unlike past wars, where about three soldiers were wounded for every one killed, advances in medicine allow 14 wounded troops in Iraq to survive for every one killed. But the wounds for many are horrific. As insurgents perfect homemade bombs, soldiers face a threat that delivers burns, shrapnel, brain injuries and broken bones all in one deadly package.

NOVEMBER

A CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter is downed in Iraq, killing 16 troops, including four Fort Carson soldiers. President George W. Bush comes to Fort Carson to console the families of the fallen. “He told us how sorry he was, and he had tears in his eyes,” one widow said.

The helicopter incident is the deadliest for Fort Carson to that point in the war.

Thanksgiving is the first of many significant holidays troops will spend in Iraq.

DECEMBER

American troops, including some from Fort Carson’s 3rd Brigade, which provided security, capture Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein.

2004 


JANUARY

Fort Carson troops make their way home after a year at war. The homecomings have a theme song: Toby Keith’s “Angry American.”

Sadness accompanies the joy of homecoming. Troop losses mount, including four Fort Carson GIs killed in a single incident.





MARCH

Mass homecomings of soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team and the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment continue at Fort Carson. As the first year in Iraq passed, optimism abounded. Top brass in the Pikes Peak region predict the war will soon end.

By the first anniversary of the war, 44 local troops have been killed.

MAY

The Army announces an investigation into the killing of Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, who was held by forces from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and died while being interrogated.JUNE

More than 65,000 people crowd streets in downtown Colorado Springs for a parade to welcome troops home. Officials later said it was the best-attended parade in the city’s history. George W. Bush speaks at the Air Force Academy graduation, “We bring more than a vision to this conflict — we bring a strategy that will lead to victory.”

JULY

Four soldiers in the 3rd Brigade Combat Team are charged with throwing an Iraqi to his death from a bridge above the Tigris River in Samarra. First word hits that thousands of Fort Carson soldiers will return to Iraq ahead of schedule because of an increase in insurgent violence.

DECEMBER

More than 400 Iraq-bound soldiers re-enlist in a Fort Carson ceremony. There’s a baby boom at the post, nine months after soldiers returned home.

2005 


JANUARY

Fort Carson troops in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment face three weeks of training in Colorado Springs as a final preparation for Iraq combat.

MARCH

With more deployments, the number of Fort Carson troops in Iraq tops 10,000. By the second anniversary of the war, 99 local troops have been killed.

JUNE

The Army announces that the entire 4th Infantry Division will move to Fort Carson, with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment leaving the post for Fort Hood, Texas.

JULY

Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 2nd Infantry Division come to Fort Carson after a year in Iraq. The unit headed to Iraq from bases in South Korea and was reassigned to Fort Carson while at war.

OCTOBER

Soldiers with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment celebrate Halloween in Iraq. A spokesman for the unit said everyone was costumed as a soldier. No need for phony fears, he said, Iraq was scary enough.

NOVEMBER

Soldiers with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team head for Iraq. Couples say they’re feeling deployment stress, including pre-deployment arguments. “It’s easier to leave if you are arguing,” 3rd Brigade Sgt. David Riddle said.

DECEMBER

More airmen are called to battle. The Air Force Academy sends 130 airmen from its ranks to war, including many who will fill traditional Army roles such as convoy security.

2006 


JANUARY

Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer gets house arrest and a fine in the death of an Iraqi prisoner. Prosecutors had charged him with murder in the death of Abed Hamed Mowhoush, but a military jury settled on lesser charges. It is the last in a string of prisoner abuse cases at the post.

FEBRUARY

Soldiers from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment return from Iraq. The unit is lauded for changing U.S. strategy after its commander Col. Herbert R. McMaster implemented a “clear, hold, build” plan in the Iraqi city of Tal Afar.

MARCH

By the third anniversary of the war, 162 local troops have been killed, including 63 in the past year. Nearly 22,000 soldiers from the post have served in Iraq.

MAY

More than 1,100 soldiers from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment re-enlist. Many are drawn by bonuses offered by the Army to bolster sagging recruiting numbers. Soldiers can get $10,000 for re-enlisting.

AUGUST

The Army shortens time at home. Some troops will spend less than a year at Fort Carson between tours in Iraq. “We’re getting mad over here and, yes, it’s destroying morale,” one soldier wrote in an email to The Gazette from Iraq.

OCTOBER

The 3,500-soldier 2nd Brigade is leaving for Iraq, but not all its soldiers are happy. “You’re like rats running through a maze fighting other rats,” one soldier said.

NOVEMBER

Vice President Dick Cheney visits Fort Carson and slams war critics. “I’m afraid that as we get farther away from Sept. 11, 2001, there is a temptation to let up in this fight against terror,” Cheney said. “Either we are serious about fighting this war or we are not.”

DECEMBER

There’s a debate over whether Iraq is in the midst of a civil war. “It’s not like a civil war with blue and gray. You have blue, gray, green, black, red, yellow, purple and white, and they go at it together,” Fort Carson Col. Brian Jones said.

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