During 2014, at any given time, about 95 ships—one-third of the U.S. Navy—were deployed around the world, fighting adversaries as deadly yet diverse as ISIL and the Ebola virus. They were crewed by 41,000 highly skilled and motivated people, protecting America’s interests in a complex, dangerous world. “This is our mandate: to be where it matters, when it matters,” Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert emphasized in his 2015 Posture Statement.
Taking the War to ISIL
On 8 August 2014, two U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets assigned to Carrier Air Wing 8 embarked on the aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) conducted the first U.S. strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorists. The Hornets dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs against artillery targets near Erbil, Kurdistan, blunting ISIL’s advance toward Baghdad. Earlier in the summer, the Bush had been deployed off the coast of Pakistan, conducting strikes in support of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, when the call came to redeploy.