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American Wars and American Military Enemies
Since the first organized
military conflict in the history of an independent United States
(against the British, of course), the U.S. has fought many foreign
enemies, with most of these wars taking place overseas. This timeline
of American wars is divided by each American war foe. The first
American enemy nation listed is Great Britain, with each major
conflict between the United States and that enemy nation listed. The
timeline lists American war enemy nations in rough chronological
order from the first instance of major combat.
This timeline of American
wars is limited to foreign foes. This war timeline does not include
“internal” American conflicts, such as the Civil War, the
Indian Wars, or Slave Rebellions, or other internal conflicts. Also,
this timeline includes only major wars and conflicts, and does not
include many smaller wars and interventions that have occurred over
American military history.
Quasi Naval War with France. This was a naval war that was an
offshoot of the French Revolutionary Wars.
1942-Allied Invasion of
French North Africa: During World War Two, most of France was
occupied by the invading Germans. Part of France was allowed by
the Germans to continue as an allegedly independent state, led by
French Marshal Petain, based in the city of Vichy. His regime was
commonly referred to as Vichy France, and while Petain was in
reality a German puppet, his regime did control most of
France’s overseas colonies, including the North African
territories of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. In 1942, the United
States needed to invade French North Africa in order to get to the
German and Italian forces in Libya (and then to invade Italy from
Despite attempts to
negotiate peaceful landings, Vichy French forces in Morocco and
Algeria resisted American amphibious landings, resulting in
French-American combat that led the deaths of over 500 American
troops and over 1,300 French dead.
1986-U.S. Bombing of
Libya-This was in response to a terrorist attack that killed
American troops that Libya was involved in.
2011-First Libyan Civil
War-The U.S., along with NATO and other nations, intervened in the
Libyan Civil War to topple dictator Muammar Khaddafy.
Intervention in Libya against ISIS and in support of the
government in Tripoli.
Andrew Jackson invades Spanish Florida. Spain quickly turns
Florida over to the U.S.
War. Fought largely in Spanish colonies of Cuba and the
Border War: During the Mexican civil war now known as the Mexican
Revolution, multiple incidents and invasions occurred along the
U.S.-Mexican border. Below are the major incidents of
Mexican-American combat during this conflict:
invades and occupies the Mexican port city of Vera Cruz
Villa’s attack on Columbus, New Mexico prompted a U.S.
invasion of northern Mexico
1918-Battle of Ambos
Nogales, a cross-border battle between U.S. troops and Mexican
troops and their German advisors.
1919-Battle of Ciudad
Juarez, in which U.S. troops battled Pancho Villa’s forces
in the border town of Ciudad Juarez in response to a Villista
attack on El Paso.
China sent hundreds of thousands of troops into North Vietnam
(anti-aircraft artillery units, primarily) to help North Vietnam
defend against American bombing runs. This military intervention
allowed North Vietnam to send thousands more troops to fight in
Laos, Cambodia, and South Vietnam. Chinese casualties amounted to
1,100 dead and 4,200 wounded
Naval War Against Germany
Intervention in the Russian Civil War
1946-1991-The Cold War
was a conflict that pitted the U.S. against the Soviet Union in
many incidents and crisis points. This list shows the major points
where the U.S. and Soviets nearly went to war:
Blockade and Airlift Crisis
(Soviet forces fought alongside the Chinese and North Koreans.
This Soviet involvement was not publicly known at the
American spyplane, a U2 flown by Gary Francis Powers, is shot
down over the Soviet Union.
War Two in the Pacific and Asia
NOTE: 1n 1853 and 1854,
American Naval Commodore Matthew Perry led a fleet of American
warships to Japan to force the Japanese to establish diplomatic
and trade relations with the U.S. While this show of American
military force did not result in a war, it was a blatant threat by
the U.S. for Japan to either open up to American influence or face
War Two in North Africa, the Meditteranean and in Italy.
1966-1969- DMZ War,
which was a border conflict in which North Korea launched a series
of guerilla-type attacks across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) which
was the truce line of the Korean War.
NOTE: The Korean War
never really ended, and, while major hostilities did end with an
armistice in 1953, there have been many combat incidents between
North Korea and South Korea and U.S. forces over the
1961-Bay of Pigs
Invasion-American CIA-organized invasion of Cuba by exile forces
attempting to overthrow Fidel Castro, who was allied with the
of Grenada: U.S.
forces invaded the island of Grenada and engaged in combat with
Cuban forces stationed there.
War (U.S. advisors were in South Vietnam since 1956, but major
U.S. combat operations began in 1964)
NOTE: America provided
major military assistance to French forces in the First Indochina
War (1946-1954), primarily as a result of the Communist takeover
of China in 1949 and the subsequent asisstance by Communist China
to the Viet Minh forces.
American Hostages in
referred to by the U.S. as Operation Earnest Will, was a part of
the Iran-Iraq War in which the U.S. Navy protected shipping in the
Persian Gulf from Iranian attacks. This led to several military
clashes between U.S. and Iranian forces in the Gulf.
military clashes in Iraq
forces engaged in combat with Syrian
forces as both
intervened in Lebanon’s Civil War
intervention in the Syrian Civil War (along with operations
against ISIS in the Islamic State War partially fought on Syrian
soil), results in multiple American air strikes on Syrian
government and military targets.
No-Fly Zone War in
which U.S. and UK forces enforced no-fly zones over northern and
State War in Iraq and Syria
Al-Qaeda was the group that the “War on
Terror” was first launched against in 2001, but the group
founded and led by Osama bin Laden began attacking American
targets long before the 9/11 attacks on the United States:
1998-Embassy bombings in
Kenya and Tanzania. Al-Qaeda blew up two American embassies in
Africa, prompting the U.S. to retaliate against al-Qaida
facilities in Sudan and Afghanistan
on the USS Cole:
Al-Qaeda attempted to sink an American naval ship near
2001: The 9/11 attacks
on the U.S.
2001-Present: In the
invasion of Afghanistan,
the U.S. took the war to al-Qaeda’s home base.
2011: Death of bin
Laden: U.S. special forces locate and kill Osama bin Laden in his
NOTE: Al-Qaeda forces
and Islamic Jihadist groups that ally with them are found in many
nations, and U.S. and allied forces have fought them in multiple
locations, including, but not limited to, Afghanistan, Pakistan,
Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and the Philippines.
Taliban is a Jihadist force in Afghanistan and Pakistan
that allied itself with al-Qaeda and became an American enemy in
2001 as America saw them as accomplices to the 9/11
Islamic State AKA ISIS, ISIL,
and Daesh, began as an offshoot of al-Qaeda, but
split from them and became a major player among Sunni Jihadist
groups when it seized large amounts of territory in Syria and Iraq
in an attempt to form a new Islamic Caliphate. The U.S. and allied
nations joined the war against the Islamic State in 2014 in Iraq
and Syria. Islamic State affiliates and allies also operate in
Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and the Sahara region of northwest Africa.
American forces have battled these Islamic State affiliates in
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