By lex, On Tue – May 18, 2004
It’s a strange feature of life in the Navy these days – while the Army and Marines have their hands full on the ground in Iraq, the purely naval mission is complete. For twelve years every deploying carrier battle group knew right where they’d be going, and every air wing knew exactly what threat to train to. Nearly every TACAIR pilot now in the fleet has some measure of combat experience, between Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and of course all the brush fires in the Balkans back during the 90’s.
When I first joined the fleet, only the commanders and those more senior had combat experience, dating from Vietnam. They had racks of campaign ribbons (chest candy), air medals, etc. There was a sharp difference in the chest candy between those old enough to have served in Southeast Asia, and those who just missed it. From 1972, cold warriors were always ready, but hardly ever committed. Now even lieutenants junior grade have seen the wolf.
Still, it feels strange to be focusing on the next threat when people are still fighting and dying overseas.