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Four Nights; 100 Targets

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 21, 1998 – During the course of four nights, American and British bombs and missiles struck 100 Iraqi military targets. Defense leaders praised U.S. service members for the success of Operation Desert Fox.

The United States achieved its goals, Defense Secretary William Cohen said at the Pentagon Dec. 19. "We've degraded Saddam Hussein's ability to deliver chemical and biological weapons," he said. "We've diminished his ability to wage war against his neighbors."

Army. Gen. Hugh Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, echoed Cohen's assessment. "I am confident that the carefully planned and superbly executed combat operations of the past four days have degraded Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction program, his ability to deliver weapons and his ability to militarily threaten the security of this strategically important Persian Gulf region."

During the 70-hour operation, Shelton reported, American and British planes flew more than 650 strike and strike support sorties. U.S. ships launched more than 325 Tomahawk cruise missiles. Air Force B-52 bombers dropped more than 90 cruise missiles.

Cohen said military officials developed and refined the plan for Desert Fox over the last year. "We concentrated on military targets and we worked very hard to keep civilian casualties as low as possible," he said. "Our goal was to weaken Iraq's military power, not to hurt Iraq's people."

Since the Gulf War, Hussein has chosen "confrontation over cooperation," Cohen said. "To the extent that there are civilian casualties, only Saddam and his brutally destructive regime are to blame."

Throughout the air campaign, Cohen said, American forces performed with great speed and skill. There were no U.S. or British casualties. He stressed, however, that service members face risks every day in the course of their duties. He recalled four naval officers who died when their aircraft collided on the USS Enterprise in early November.

"That night Lt. Cdr. Kurt Barich, Lt. Cdr. Meredith Loughran, Lt. Brendan Duffy and Lt. Charles Woodard gave their lives in defense of their country," the secretary said. "Our condolences and sympathies continue to go to their families and loved ones."

Shelton commended the military men and women who conducted Desert Fox for their professionalism, dedication and courage. "This was truly a team effort," the chairman said. "Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines of our total force, active, reserve and National Guard, together with our great British allies all contributed to the success achieved during the operation. It was one team and one fight."

The chairman addressed his thanks to crisis response force families. "I know it's been difficult, especially during the holiday season, to watch your husband, wife, son or daughter, mom or dad, pick up that rucksack one more time to answer our nation's call. America is very proud of you all."

The end of Desert Fox does not mean the end of the U.S. presence in the region, Shelton pointed out. Defense officials intend to evaluate the size of the force needed to "keep an eye on Saddam," he said. "Make no mistake about it, we will maintain a significant capability there to defend our national interests and the security of the region as we have for many years."

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