War on Terrorism
US 10th Mountain Division soldiers in Afghanistan U.S. Soldiers boarding a CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan during Operation Anaconda

September 11, 2001 – present


Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Horn of Africa, United States, United Kingdom, Europe, more...


War in Afghanistan (2001–present):

Iraq war:

  • Insurgency in Iraq

Piracy actions in Somalia
OEF Philippines
Counter-terrorist operations worldwide


Gen. Tommy Franks (CENTCOM commander 2001 – 2003),
Gen. John Abizaid (CENTCOM commander 2003 – 2007),
Adm. William J. Fallon (CENTCOM commander 2007 – 2008)
Adm. Sir Michael Boyce (Chief of the Defence Staff 2001 – 2003),
Gen. Sir Michael Walker (Chief of the Defence Staff 2003 – 2006),
ACM Sir Jock Stirrup (Chief of the Defence Staff 2006 – )

al-Qaeda:' Osama bin Laden
Taliban: Mohammed Omar


Major NATO participants:

  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • France
  • Canada

Non-NATO participants:

  • Afghanistan
  • Australia
  • China
  • Ethiopia
  • Iraq
  • Israel
  • India
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines

International missions:

Iraqi insurgents
Islamic Courts Union
Fatah al-Islam
Jemaah Islamiyah
Abu Sayyaf
Moro Islamic Liberation Front
Kurdistan Workers' Party
various other groups


Military casualties

Military casualties
46,300-56,700+ dead

Civilian casualties

Civilian casualties
Number unclear

The War on Terrorism (also referred to as the Global War on Terror, Global War on Terrorism or Overseas Contingency Operation[1]) is the common term for the military, political, legal and ideological conflict against what the effort's leaders describe as Islamic terrorism and Islamic militants, and has been specifically used in reference to operations by the United States and its allies since the September 11, 2001 attacks.[2][3][4][5]

The stated objectives of the war in the US are to protect US citizens and business interests in the US and abroad, break up terrorist cells in the US, and disrupt the activities of the international network of terrorist organizations made up of a number of groups under the umbrella of al-Qaeda.[6][7]

The war officialy started with the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, by the terrorist organisation al-Qaeda, which left 3,000 people dead. Less than a month after the attacks the United States started a bombing campaign against Afghanistan because the Taliban government was harboring the leader of al-Qaeda, Osama bin-Lande.

On January 30, 2002, United States President George W. Bush in his State of the Union Address described three governments, that he accused of helping terrorism and seeking weapons of mass destruction, as part of an Axis of evil. These countries were: Iraq, Iran and North Korea. In the following years three more countries were stated to be part of the Axis of evil, these were: Cuba, Libya and Syria.

The war has been a source of ongoing controversy, as critics argue it has been used to justify unilateral preemptive war, human rights abuses and other violations of international law.[8][9][10]

In March 2009, the Obama administration requested an end to the use of the pharse War on Terrorism[1], and has re-focused US efforts on withdrawal of its troops from Iraq, the closing of Guantanamo Bay detention camp, and increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan. The memo announcing the change read, "this administration prefers to avoid using the term 'Long War' or 'Global War on Terror' [GWOT.] Please use 'Overseas Contingency Operation.'"


  1. 1.0 1.1 'Global War On Terror' Is Given New Name, Scott Wilson and Al Kamen, The Washington Post, March 25, 2009; Page A04
  2. What is the "War on Terror?" Carnegie Endowment for International Peace June 5, 2006
  3. Prisoner request another change from Blair era BBC August 7, 2007 ". . . what President Bush called the "war on terror" after the attacks of 9/11."
  4. Pakistan rethinks US policy on militants BBC April 1, 2008 ". . . what is called the War on Terror"
  5. Stop calling it the 'war on terror' Los Angeles Times November 2, 2006
  6. [1] Presidential Address to the Nation October 7, 2001
  7. [2] Counterterrorism and Terrorism
  8. BBC News | AMERICAS |War on terror 'curbing human rights'
  9. Civil Rights
  10. Preemptive War and International Law