The guidance we received prior to getting under way was critical to proper execution. What some might now characterize as flaws looked all right to us at the time. Of course, at the time, we thought we were headed for the Persian Gulf.
The situation in Operation Southern Watch (enforcing the no-fly zone over southern Iraq) was very unstable as we finished our joint task force exercise. Operation Desert Fox (December 1998 U.S. and British air and missile strikes on Iraq) had recently ended, and there seemed to be a strong requirement to tone down things and reestablish the status quo in the theater of operations. Having a carrier on station was certainly an essential element of this process.