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Author Martin Kelly 

January 27, 2019

American Involvement in Wars from Colonial Times to the Present​

Americans have been involved with wars both large and small since before the founding of the nation. The first such war, sometimes called Metacom’s Rebellion or King Philip's War, lasted 14 months and destroyed 14 towns. The war, tiny by today's standards, ended when Metacom (the Pokunoket chief called ‘King Philip’ by the English), was beheaded. The most recent war, America's engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq following the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, is the most protracted war in American history and shows no sign of ending.

Wars over the years have changed dramatically, and American involvement has varied. For example, many of the earliest American wars were fought on American soil. 20th-century wars such as World Wars I and II, by contrast, were fought overseas; few American on the home front saw any type of direct engagement. While the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II and the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 resulted in American deaths, the most recent war fought on American soil was the Civil War which ended in 1865–more than 150 years ago.

Chart of Wars With American Involvement 

In addition to the named wars and conflicts listed below, members of the American military (and some civilians) have played small but active roles in many other international conflicts. 

War in Which American Colonists or
United States Citizens Officially Participated Major Combatants

1675–,1676          King Philip's War New England Colonies vs. Wampanoag, Narragansett, and Nipmuck Indians

1689–1697           King William's War The English Colonies vs. France

1702–1713            Queen Anne's War (War of Spanish Succession)The English Colonies vs. France

1744–1748           King George's War (War of Austrian Succession)The French Colonies vs. Great Britain

1756–1763           French and Indian War(Seven Years War)The French Colonies vs. Great Britain

1759–1761           Cherokee War English Colonists vs. Cherokee Indians

1775–1783          American Revolution English Colonists vs. Great Britain

1798–1800          Franco-American Naval War United States vs. France

1801–1805          Barbary Wars United States vs. Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli

1812–1815            War of 1812 United States vs. Great Britain

1813–1814           Creek War United States vs. Creek Indians

1836                    War of Texas Independence Texas vs. Mexico

1846–1848          Mexican-American War United States vs. Mexico

1861–1865          U.S. Civil War Union vs. Confederacy

1898                    Spanish-American War United States vs. Spain

1914–1918          World War I Triple Alliance: Germany, Italy, and Austria-Hungary vs. Triple Entente: Britain, France, and Russia.                                  The United States joined on the side of the Triple Entente in 1917.

1939-1945           World War II Axis Powers: Germany, Italy, Japan vs. Major Allied Powers: United States, Great Britain, France,                                     and Russia

1950–1953          Korean War United States (as part of the United Nations) and South Korea vs. North Korea and Communist China

1960–1975          Vietnam War United States and South Vietnam vs. North Vietnam

1961                    Bay of Pigs Invasion United States vs. Cuba

1983                    Grenada United States Intervention

1989                    US Invasion of Panama United States vs. Panama

1990–1991          Persian Gulf War United States and Coalition Forces vs. Iraq

1995–1996          Intervention in Bosnia and Herzegovina United States as part of NATO acted peacekeepers in former Yugoslavia

2001–present      Invasion of Afghanistan United States and Coalition Forces vs. the Taliban regime in Afghanistan to fight terrorism.

2003–2011          Invasion of Iraq United States and Coalition Forces vs. Iraq

2004–present      War in Northwest Pakistan United States vs. Pakstan, mainly drone attacks

2007–present      Somalia and Northeastern Kenya United States and Coalition forces vs. al-Shabaab militants

2009–2016         Operation Ocean Shield (Indian Ocean)NATO allies vs. Somali pirates

2011                    Intervention in Libya US and NATO allies vs. Libya

2011–2017          Lord's Resistance Army US and allies against the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda

2014–2017          US-led Intervention in Iraq US and coalition forces against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria

2014–present      US-led intervention in Syria US and coalition forces against al-Qaeda, Isis, and Syria

2015–present      Yemeni Civil War Saudi-led coalition and US, France and Kingdom against the Houthi rebels, Supreme Political                                    Council in                Yemen and allies

2015–present      US intervention in Libya US and Libya against ISIS

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