Historical Military Campaigns
World War II 1941 to 1945
World War II involved the vast majority of the world's countries-including all of the great powers-forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis powers. In a total war directly involving more than 100 million personnel from more than 30 countries, the major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. Aircraft played a major role in the conflict, enabling the strategic bombing of population centers and the only two uses of nuclear weapons in war to this day. World War II was by far the deadliest conflict in human history; it resulted in 70 to 85 million fatalities, a majority being civilians. Tens of millions of people died due to genocides (including the Holocaust), starvation, massacres, and disease.
Korean War 1950 to 1953
The Korean War was a war fought between North Korea and South Korea from 25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953. The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea following clashes along the border and insurrections in the south. North Korea had military support from the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union while South Korea was supported by the United Nations, principally the United States. The fighting ended with an armistice on 27 July 1953.
Vietnam War 1955 to 1975
The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, was a conflict in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam was supported by the Soviet Union, China, and other communist allies; South Vietnam was supported by the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand, and other anti-communist allies. The war, considered a Cold War-era proxy war by some, lasted almost 20 years, with direct U.S. involvement ending in 1973, and included the Laotian Civil War and the Cambodian Civil War, which ended with all three countries becoming communist states in 1975.
Gulf War 1990 to 1991
The Gulf War was a war waged by coalition forces from 35 nations led by the United States against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait arising from oil pricing and production disputes.
On 2 August 1990, the Iraqi Army invaded and occupied Kuwait, which was met with international condemnation and brought immediate economic sanctions against Iraq by members of the UN Security Council. UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher and U.S. president George H. W Bush deployed forces into Saudi Arabia, and urged other countries to send their own forces to the scene. An array of nations joined the coalition, forming the largest military alliance since World War II. Most of the coalition's military forces were from the U.S., with Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and Egypt as leading contributors, in that order. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia paid around U.S.$32 billion of the U.S.$60 billion cost.
Iraq War 2003 to 2011
The Iraq War was a protracted armed conflict from 2003 to 2011 that began with the invasion of Iraq by the United States-led coalition which overthrew the Iraq government under Saddam Hussein. The conflict continued for much of the next decade as an insurgency emerged to oppose the coalition forces and the post-invasion Iraqi government.
An estimated 151,000 to 1,033,000 Iraqis died in the first three to five years of conflict. U.S. troops were officially withdrawn in 2011. The United States became re-involved in 2014 at the head of a new coalition; the insurgency and many dimensions of the armed conflict continue.
War in Afghanistan 2001 to 2021
The War in Afghanistan was a conflict that took place from 2001 to 2021 in Afghanistan. It began when the United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban-ruled Islamic Emirate. The war ended with the Taliban regaining power after a 19 years and 10 months-long insurgency against allied NATO and Afghan Armed Forces. It was the longest war in United States history, surpassing the Vietnam War (1955 to 1975) by approximately five months.
Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, then-US President George W Bush demanded that the Taliban, then-de facto ruling Afghanistan, extradite Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the attacks and who was, until then, freely operating within the country. The Taliban's refusal to do so led to the invasion of the country; the Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies were mostly defeated and expelled from major population centers by U.S.-led forces and the Northern Alliance.