Operation Desert Fox

The December 1998 bombing of Iraq (code-named Operation Desert Fox) was a major four-day bombing campaign on Iraqi targets from December 16–19, 1998 by the United States and United Kingdom.

These strikes were officially undertaken in response to Iraq's failure to comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions as well as their interference with United Nations Special Commission inspectors. Although many believe that the operation was named for German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, who earned the nickname "Desert Fox" during the North African Campaign of World War II, this was not the case; the operational name was one of at least a half dozen contingency plans that U.S. Central Command developed to respond to a range of possible crises involving Iraq. Others included "Desert Lion," "Desert Badger," "Desert Viper," and "Desert Raptor" and were not used in order to mitigate an offensive perception of the operation, although the reference to Rommel was not thought of beforehand.

It was a major flare-up in the Iraq disarmament crisis. The stated goal of the cruise missile and bombing attacks was to disrupt Saddam's ability to maintain his grip on power.

On October 31, 1998 US President Bill Clinton had signed into law H.R. 4655, the Iraq Liberation Act. The new Act appropriated funds to Iraqi opposition groups in the hope of removing Saddam Hussein from power and replacing his regime with a democracy.

The President is authorized to direct the drawdown of defense articles from the stocks of the Department of Defense, defense services of the Department of Defense, and military education and training for [Iraqi democratic opposition] organizations.”

— Section 4(a)(2) of the Iraq Liberation Act