United States military action against Iraq began during March of 2003 for the stated purpose of removing Saddam Hussein, the country's leader, from power as a means of preventing his use of suspected stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, or WMD. A coalition of forces that included troops from England, Australia and Denmark captured Iraq's capital, Baghdad, in a little less than 3 weeks after the invasion began. U.S. President George W. Bush delivered a televised "Mission Accomplished" speech on May 3, 2003 from the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, and declared the war a victory over Iraq's defeated conventional forces.
After the defeat of Iraq's conventional forces, pockets of resistance continued fighting, and attacks by insurgents against the occupying forces began to increase. A temporary lessening of hostilities took place following the capture of Saddam Hussein on a farm near Tikrit on December 3, 2003, but serious fighting with insurgents began again on March 31, 2004 when U.S. military contractors were ambushed in the city of Fallujah. This led to the First and Second Battles of Fallujah, which involved long-term heavy urban combat. The Pentagon released a report in March of 2008 stating that violence within Iraq had been curtailed by 40 percent to 80 percent.