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Air Force News

Operation Northern Watch scores 100 percent mission rate

Released: 2 Nov 1998

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey (AFPN) -- Operation Northern Watch scored the best operational month yet in its nearly two year history with 100 percent mission effectiveness for October.

ONW replaced Operation Provide Comfort in January 1997 and serves to enforce an air exclusion zone controlling the use of Iraqi air space above the 36th parallel. ONW also monitors Iraqi forces to determine compliance with applicable United Nations Security Council Resolutions. Nearly 1,300 military members from all branches of the U.S. services and three nations -- the U.S., Britain and Turkey -- work together to accomplish the mission.

In October, every mission scheduled to enforce the air exclusion zone above the 36 parallel was flown without cancellations caused by weather, maintenance or political constraints.

"This is an indicator of the dedication and motivation of the high-caliber professionals from the three nations that make up the ONW team," said Air Force Brig. Gen. David Deptula, the Combined Task Force's U.S. commander.

The increased effectiveness is attributed to improvements in maintenance procedures, upgrades to communication systems, and improving cooperation between the coalition nations.

"Improving the way we do maintenance has helped, but the biggest gain has come with the addition of a second data link about four months ago," said Air Force Col. Kenneth Callicutt, Combined Forces Air Component commander. "This link gives us a backup in carrying mission essential information from the AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft) to those in the air and on the ground who need it."

Instead of turning home when a single link is lost, crews can now switch to an alternate link and continue the mission, thereby eliminating wasted crew time. This means more time over Iraq reminding Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein of the consequences of his actions.

"Cooperation of our host -- Turkey -- was critical to making this happen as was the hard work of all the maintenance and support troops," Callicutt noted. "This demonstrates that even in a coalition operation, you do not have to sacrifice efficiency and effectiveness. As we increasingly operate in coalition environments, it is incumbent that we work to fashion a concept of operations that allows everyone to operate at the maximum effective level instead of the lowest common denominator."

"This is truly a significant achievement that demonstrates the success of an effective team that pursues innovation and searches for ways to improve mission accomplishment," added Deptula.

According to Tech. Sgt. Bryon Beers, CTF historian, this record eclipses the next best month recorded in January that faced four down-days for weather plus other challenges. Mission effectiveness is defined as the percentage of scheduled days flown with the exception of weather cancellations.

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