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TR-based Aircraft Continue Support of Operation Steel Curtain

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS051114-01
Release Date: 11/14/2005 10:30:00 AM

By Journalist 2nd Class Steve Murphy, USS Theodore Roosevelt Public Affairs

ABOARD USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (NNS) -- Aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 stationed aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) continued support of Operation Steel Curtain (OSC) throughout the second week of November, conducting five consecutive days of strikes against terrorist targets in support of coalition troops in Iraq.

The missions flown during OSC demonstrate the quickness and flexibility of CVW 8 and the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG) to provide continuous support on both land and sea.

“Carrier Air Wing 8 continues to demonstrate that we can deliver a knock-out punch in support of coalition troops on the ground when called upon to do so,” said Rear Adm. James A. Winnefeld, commander, Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group. “Whether fighting terrorism at sea or supporting the fight on the ground, maritime forces continue to make a positive impact in helping set the conditions for the people of Iraq to determine their own future.”

Operation Steel Curtain is an offensive aimed at preventing cells of Al Qaeda from entering Iraq through the Syrian border. Coalition ground forces consisting of 1,000 Iraqi Army Soldiers and 2,500 U.S. Marines began the offensive Nov. 4 near the town of Husaybah near the Iraq/Syria border.

Husaybah has become a haven for cells of Al Qaeda entering the country through the Syrian border, according to military officials, and they are describing this as the largest military assault since American-led forces stormed Falluja last year.

Aircraft from CVW 8 began providing air support for OSC Nov. 6 by flying reconnaissance and strike missions as required to support troops on the ground during the offensive. As troops were taking fire and buildings in Husaybah were identified as insurgent hotbeds, positions were called in to circling aircraft, which responded to the calls.

“The personnel of CVW 8 train hard and fight even harder,” said Capt. William G. Sizemore II, commander, Carrier Air Wing 8. “The types of the sorties being executed during Operation Steel Curtain, whether planned or suddenly called in from the ground, demonstrate the agility of this air wing.”

F-14 Tomcats assigned to Fighter Squadron (VF) 213 and VF-31, along with F/A-18s assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 15, have conducted several strikes on locations being used by Anti-Iraqi Force (AIF) personnel for strategic firing positions against U.S. Marines and coalition ground forces. Since Nov. 6, CVW 8 has flown nearly 400 sorties in support of OSC.

Carrier Air Wing 8 first teamed with TR during her maiden deployment in December 1988. Since then, crews from CVW 8 and CVN 71 have joined forces during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Operation Southern Watch in the Red Sea, operations Deny Flight and Sharp Guard over the skies of Bosnia and the Adriatic, and the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

“Every Sailor is sacrificing personally to ensure our Marines have what they need to be successful during this operation, and together we are making a huge difference – saving Marines’ lives - so they can continue their efforts to slow the number of anti-Iraqi forces coming into Iraq,” said Capt. J.R. Haley, Theodore Roosevelt commanding officer. “Supporting our Marines and the Iraqi soldiers during Operation Steel Curtain makes the sacrifice and hard work during training worth every minute.”

In addition to flying missions over Iraq, Theodore Roosevelt-based aircraft have been flying missions in support of Maritime Security Operations in the Persian Gulf. In both cases, the aircraft act as eyes for the Soldiers and ships that cannot see the threat and are making a difference in the fight against terrorism.

Maritime Security Operations set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations by denying international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons, or other material.

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