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Keeping watch.

Since Sept. 11, it's been easy to forget that we still have people around the world supporting operations other than Enduring Freedom. These airmen continue supporting ongoing contingencies, putting themselves in harm's way and enduring long periods of time away from home and family.

Southern Watch is just one of many operations and has been the key to making sure Iraq complies with U.N. mandates since 1991.

Southern Watch enforces the coalition-imposed southern "no-fly zone" over Iraq. Following Operation Desert Storm, the coalition established an "off-limits" area over southern Iraq where Iraqi military aircraft can't fly. For pilots, the missions are potentially dangerous, and they plan and execute them accordingly.

They fly into areas with Iraqi radar and missiles, and are occasionally "painted" and threatened. At times, the threat must be neutralized.

Since December 1998, Iraq has fired anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles against coalition aircraft nearly 1,100 times, according to U.S. Central Command. Iraqi aircraft have violated the southern no-fly zone more than 160 times in the same period.

For everyone the days are long, the operations tempo is cranked to maxi mum and "family" isn't just a term used for those who are thousands of miles away.

It's the brothers and sisters who are flying into harm's way, working long hours to keep the aircraft in top shape, loading weapons at 2 a.m. and making sure eveyone eats.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Airman
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2002
Words:234
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