ABOARD USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- As USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3 adjust to the hectic schedule of combat operations, the Sailors and Marines aboard are battling more than just the forces of tyranny in Iraq. They are also up against the primal forces of mother nature.
While the ground troops making their way toward Baghdad struggled against blinding sandstorms March 25, the same weather patterns affected CVW-3 aviators, as they catapulted from the flight deck and soared into hostile skies.
According to Rear Adm. John D. Stufflebeem, commander, Combined Task Force 60 and commander, Carrier Group 2, the conditions were too rough for safe flight.
"We launched two missions this morning, and they were unable to complete it and returned back to the ship safely," Stufflebeem said March 25, referring to aircraft that had launched earlier that morning. "The weather is bad enough that we can't get to the (refueling) tankers, and because of the lousy weather, we are not getting the coordination on the ground that we need to have to release the weapons."
The next morning was ushered in with winds that cleared out much of the inclement weather. The day dawned with vivid blue skies. Stufflebeem said in spite of the windy conditions, refueling operations were not being hindered by turbulence.
"The visibility is very good," he said. "(The aircraft) can come down in altitude, and tankers can find those altitudes where turbulence is minimized."
As Truman's aircraft are able to refuel in-flight and continue their strike missions, Sailors and Marines continue to monitor 24 hour news networks.
Much of the war has played out before their eyes and it's hard to deny the losses suffered by coalition forces. Many expected the war to be over in a matter of days, however, Stufflebeem said he never had such expectations.
"I believe that was an artificial expectation," he said. "If it's over quickly, we're ready to move on to other business. If it's going to be a while, we're ready to stay here and do business a while."
Despite small setbacks, coalition forces are dominating. Stufflebeem said the work this battle group is doing is directly contributing to the successes of special operations forces on the ground in Iraq.
"What we're providing from the two carriers (Truman and USS Theodore Roosevelt [CVN 71]) is heavy ordnance that special operations forces are not carrying themselves. Our guys are getting good reports that the weapons they're dropping are achieving good effect, which I infer to mean that the special operations teams are getting what they need done."
For related news, visit the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn75.