On 20 March 2003, a combined force of American, British and Australian troops under US leadership invaded Iraq in what was termed "the Second Gulf War". Their object was to locate and destroy suspected weapons of mass destruction.
Small but highly effective Australian army, air force, and navy elements assisted the operation. Within three weeks coalition forces had seized Baghdad and the corrupt and brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein was overthrown. However, no weapons of mass destruction were found.
The coalition’s victory was followed by a difficult "nation building" and counter-insurgency campaign to prevent Iraq sliding into civil war. In July 2003 an Australian army training team began to train Iraqi soldiers in Iraq and in April 2005 the army deployed a task group to southern Iraq to protect a Japanese engineer construction unit.