Like the dinners Nelson shared with his captains as they sailed toward Alexandria, our carrier battle group conducted wardroom visits among ships en route to the Persian Gulf. The visits were opportunities for us to exchange views on air warfare, mere weeks before taking station a few seconds from an Iranian antiship missile engagement zone.
We were playing catch-up ball. On board the USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53), our Aegis guided-missile destroyer, I put on a headset and listened to the air intercept controllers (AICs) and the captain run intercepts, observed their decision making, and watched as the ship's SM-2s and the carrier-based fighters' AIM120s hit their targets. Bad guys fell from the skies, victims to both the surface and airborne shooters. After each intercept the captain, tactical action officer (TAO), air weapons coordinator (AWC), the AIC, and I debriefed the runs and discussed what we could have done better. I provided something not often seen on an escort: the aircrew's perspective, which mostly helped the AICs.