USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Before Operation Iraqi Freedom began, there had been speculation in the media that any conflict with Saddam Hussein and his faithful followers would be finished within a short amount of time, perhaps a matter of hours or days.
But as the air strikes and ground battles continue and infantry units push their way toward Baghdad, a definitive end date to the war has not appeared on the horizon.
Rear Adm. John D. Stufflebeem, commander, Combined Task Force 60 and commander, Carrier Group 2, said he never had any expectations.
"As we worked up this battle group and got ready to deploy, I prepared myself mentally and told the others that there was nothing to indicate that we would be extended for any length of time on deployment, but world events change and we had to be ready, and therefore, I was mentally ready to stay longer," Stufflebeem told reporters at a press conference March 26.
"When I saw the elements of this plan and what I would need to do to help support that, there was never anything in there that had a timeline that would say here's 'X' number of days that we have to do this by," he added.
Although most of the Sailors and Marines of USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3 have not seen nor set foot upon land in more than 50 days, they know they are in it for the long haul.
"I'd rather be at sea than pull into a foreign port right now, at least until the war is over," Personnelman 1st Class (SW/AW) Chad Ewell said. "I feel for the safety of the ship and crew, and I think we're better off out here."
Ewell said the job is all about mission accomplishment. "We'll be at sea as long as we have to be. I'd rather take our time and do the job right than rush things and end up hurting ourselves or more people than we have to. Sometimes it pays to be patient, even though it may be an inconvenience at times."
On the other hand, Aviation Electrician's Mate Airman Jonathan Day of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 126 said that despite some tiredness, the war has actually taken his mind off the fact that HST has been at sea for so long. "There's always a little fatigue due to the amount of hours we put in, but the war has given us something to strive for."
As far as the war length is concerned, Day said, "When we first started, I heard a bunch of rumors that it would be over in a few days or so, but I don't think any war could be that short. My expectations are going right along with what's happening."
Regardless of how long anyone expected a conflict against Hussein's forces to last, there is the expectation that coalition forces will emerge victorious, and that HST will continue to do its part in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
For related news, visit the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn75.