News



DATE=2/19/98
TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT
NUMBER=5-39020
TITLE=ABOARD A CARRIER
BYLINE=GIL BUTLER
DATELINE=PERSIAN GULF
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 

INTRO:  THE FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES, BRITAIN, AND OTHER 
COUNTRIES ARE LARGELY IN PLACE IN THE PERSIAN GULF FOR A POSSIBLE
SHOWDOWN WITH IRAQ.  CORRESPONDENT GIL BUTLER REPORTS FROM ABOARD
THE U-S AIRCRAFT CARRIER, GEORGE WASHINGTON, ONE OF THE MAIN 
ELEMENTS OF THE FORCE.

TEXT:

                ///  AIRCRAFT TAKEOFF SOUND  ///

THE DEAFENING SOUND OF AN F-14 JET FIGHTER TAKING OFF FROM THE 
DECK OF THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER GEORGE WASHINGTON.  IT HAS BEEN 
REPEATED HUNDREDS OF TIMES IN THE PAST WEEKS AS THIS SHIP AND THE
INDEPENDENCE, THE OTHER AMERICAN CARRIER IN THE GULF, FLY 
CONSTANT TRAINING MISSIONS OVER THE WATER AND FLY OVER SOUTHERN 
IRAQ TO ENFORCE A NO-FLY ZONE.

IF LAST-DITCH DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS FAIL TO RESOLVE THE IRAQ CRISIS,
AND THE ORDER COMES DOWN FOR AIR STRIKES ON TARGETS INSIDE IRAQ, 
THE CARRIERS WILL HAVE A MAJOR PART IN THOSE STRIKES.

REAR ADMIRAL MICHAEL MULLEN IS COMMANDER OF THE GEORGE WASHINGTON
BATTLE GROUP.  HE SAYS THE FIVE-THOUSAND SAILORS AND MARINES ON 
THE CARRIER KEEP UP WITH DEVELOPMENTS WHILE TRAINING FOR ACTION.

                      ///  MULLEN ACT  ///

         WE ARE STAYING IN STEP WITH THE DIPLOMATIC PROCESS AS IT
         CONTINUES TO UNFOLD, AND THE MORALE, THE LEVEL OF 
         EXPERTISE, THE TECHNICAL ABILITY THAT I SEE IN THIS 
         BATTLE GROUP AND OTHER NAVAL FORCES OUT HERE IS HIGHER 
         THAN I HAVE EVER SEEN IT IN MY CAREER.

                        ///  END ACT  ///

PAUL BROTZE IS ONE OF THE PILOTS WHO HAVE BEEN FLYING DAILY OVER 
SOUTHERN IRAQ.  HE REJECTS A SUGGESTION THE FLIGHTS HAVE BECOME 
ROUTINE.

                    ///  PAUL BROTZE ACT  ///

         I WOULD NOT GO SO FAR AS TO CALL IT ROUTINE, YET.  I 
         THINK THAT MOST GUYS ARE ABLE TO MAINTAIN THE EDGE IT 
         TAKES TO, AT LEAST, BE FAR FROM COMPLAISANT WHEN WE ARE 
         FLYING OVER LAND.

                        ///  END ACT  ///

THE GEORGE WASHINGTON CREW THINKS THE DANGER IS REAL.  CAPTAIN 
LINDELL RUTHERFORD IS THE COMMANDING OFFICER OF THE CARRIER.  HE 
SAYS IRAQI PILOTS FLY UP TO 100 SORTIES A DAY OVER CENTRAL IRAQ, 
AND IRAQ'S CAPABILITIES ARE, IN HIS WORDS, ABOUT THE SAME LEVEL 
AS IN THE 1991 GULF WAR.  MANY OF THE PILOTS AND CREW MEMBERS ON 
THE GEORGE WASHINGTON FOUGHT IN THAT WAR.

                    ///  RUTHERFORD ACT  ///

         A HIGH PERCENTAGE OF OUR PILOTS AND PEOPLE ON BOARD THE 
         SHIP WERE IN  DESERT STORM.  SO THERE IS AN AWFUL LOT OF
         EXPERIENCE OPERATING IN THIS AREA AND OPERATING AGAINST 
         THE FORCES IN IRAQ.  THERE IS A LOT OF BACKGROUND, A LOT
         OF HISTORY.  WE HAVE BEEN HERE BEFORE.

                        ///  END ACT  ///

WHILE PREPARING FOR POSSIBLE ACTION, LIFE ABOARD THE GEORGE 
WASHINGTON IS A 24-HOUR ROUND OF TRAINING FLIGHTS, EQUIPMENT 
MAINTENANCE, AND THE THOUSAND-AND-ONE OTHER JOBS THAT GO INTO 
OPERATING A HUGE AIRCRAFT CARRIER.  THE SHIP IS DUE TO LEAVE FOR 
ITS HOME PORT OF NORFOLK, VIRGINIA IN APRIL AFTER COMPLETING A 
SIX-MONTH DEPLOYMENT.  BUT SOME PILOTS HERE SAY IF THE ORDER FOR 
MILITARY ACTION COMES THEY WOULD  NOT  MIND AN EXTENDED 
DEPLOYMENT.   (SIGNED)

           /// AIRPLANE TAKE OFF SOUND UP AND OUT ///

NEB/MGB/JWH/RAE

19-Feb-98 9:51 AM EST (1451 UTC)
NNNN

Source: Voice of America
.