The recent threat of a military showdown against Iraq again showcased the Navy's large aircraft carriers: the Independence (CV-62) and George Washington (CVN-73) conducted routine flight operations in the Persian Gulf, helped to enforce the no-fly zones over southern Iraq, and stood ready to launch air strikes. The carriers were particularly important because several Arab states in the area had forbidden certain offensive operations against Iraq to be flown from bases in their countries.
In addition, the violation of flight procedures over northern Italy by a Marine EA-6B Prowler that caused the February tramcar disaster led to the imposition of still more restrictions on U.S. air operations from the base at Aviano. "The accident has stirred a wave of anti-American feeling that has put the government under pressure to refuse to let the United States use any of its bases in Italy for military action against Iraq. It also has strengthened calls from the Left to close U.S. bases in Italy," reported an Associated Press report of 20 February. This situation increases the significance of aircraft carriers for operations in the Bosnia area.