On September 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda hijacked four airliners and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Two of the planes were flown into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Often referred to as 9/11, the attacks resulted in extensive death and destruction, triggering major U.S. initiatives to combat terrorism and defining the presidency of George W. Bush. Over 3,000 people were killed during the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., including more than 400 police officers and firefighters.
On 17 October 2014, the Department of Defense formally established Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) in order to formalize ongoing military actions against the rising threat posed by ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Fueled by sectarian conflicts and division, ISIS ascended from relative obscurity in 2013 to propagate an extremist socio-political ideology, and claimed to have created an Islamic caliphate. Its successful acquisition of conventional weapons, establishment of armed formations, rapid territorial growth and unconscionable atrocities shocked the world and destabilized the region.
Following the 9/11 attacks, it was discovered that Al-Qaeda, an extremist Islamic militant group, was responsible for these acts of violence. 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 United States remains in Afghanistan, and is likely to remain until a strong central government, capable of enforcing stability, can be established.
President George W. Bush addresses the nation via live television and announces that Operation Iraqi Freedom has begun on March 20, 2003. Bush authorized the mission to rid Iraq of tyrannical dictator Saddam Hussein and eliminate Hussein’s ability to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Operation Iraqi Freedom illustrated the Bush administration’s pledge to use unilateral, pre-emptive strikes if necessary against nations believed dangerous to American national security.