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Operation Desert Fox

On December 16, 1998, United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) military forces launched cruise missile attacks against military targets in Iraq. These strikes were ordered by the President of the United States and were undertaken in response to Iraq's continued failure to comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions as well as their interference with United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) inspectors. The strikes were designed to deliver a serous blow to Saddam Hussein's capability to manufacture, store, maintain and deliver weapons of mass destruction and his ability to threaten or otherwise intimidate his neighbors.

In November 1998, US President William J. Clinton warned Iraqi leadership that force would be used if they continued to hamper United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) inspectors efforts. This operation, dubbed Desert Fox, was a rapid and intense use of air power that lasted four days (17-20 December 1998), ending on the first day of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year during which Muslim believers must fast between dawn and dusk. It was also the first operation that used B-1B Lancer bomber aircraft in a combat role. As in earlier confrontations between coalition forces and Iraqi military forces in the Persian Gulf, the intent was to show the coalition's resolve to continue to support the UN's monitoring effort. This was basically the "straw that broke the camel's back" in the year-long tug of war between Hussein and the coalition. In fact, the US deployed forces to the Persian Gulf in February 1998 as part of operation Desert Thunder. Like confrontations in the past, Hussein selected a time when the US and her European allies were busy with preparing for another situation, again in the former republic of Yugoslavia.

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