In 2003 the United States Marine Corps was deployed by air and sea to Kuwait to prepare for combat, security operations, and humanitarian efforts in the region. From Kuwait the Marines began their march to Baghdad, making the march the longest in Marine Corps history. On 9 April 2003, with the assistance of the US Army, the Marines attacked Baghdad and took control of Saddam Hussein’s hometown, Tikrit. After the attacks the Marines were assigned to Baghdad, Tikrit and other parts of Iraq to conduct stabilizing operations.
The Marines left Iraq in the summer of 2003, only to return in 2004 for occupation duty. They were stationed in Al Anbar Province, a large desert region west of Baghdad. While in Al Anbar, the Marines participated in Operation Vigilant Resolve and Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah. One of the main goals of both operations was to apprehend those responsible for the deaths of four military contractors who died while working for Blackwater USA. The Marines were also looking for those responsible for killing five American soldiers in Habbaniyah. Operation Phantom Fury was the heaviest urban combat the US Marines had been invoked in since the Battle of Hue’ City in Vietnam in 1968.
In 2009 it was announced that all troops would be withdrawn from Iraq by August 2010. The US Marines officially ended their stay in Iraq on 23 January 2010, although, during the summer of 2014 they were called back to the area due to the unrest and violence in the region.