WE OWN THE NIGHT
In the second half of December, Lt. Gen. Calvin A.H. Waller, CENTCOM's deputy commanding general, told the press that American ground forces would not be ready to attack Iraq until possibly mid-February. "The transportation system is overloaded," Waller said, "and additional forces assigned to the region will not arrive until late January."
Some questioned the timing of Gen. Waller's comments. But the Bush administration downplayed the remarks, even though
anonymous sources continued to admit an American offensive might have to wait until February. In contrast to outsiders, pilots believed that Gen. Waller's comments were designed to keep Saddam Hussein off balance.
In any case, New Year's Eve was spent in the beer tent celebrating the end of our fourth month at Al Minhad. The base had made enormous strides and, thanks to Lt. Col. Rackley and a group of dedicated pilots, the 421st had evolved into a top-notch squadron. Twenty-four of the pilots in the unit were now LANTIRN-qualified, and the others were proficient enough with the FLIR to fly virtually any night mission.
Fighter pilots will usually tell you they prefer flying during the day, but the Black Widows had taken the LANTIRN mission and turned it into one of the coalition's most effective weapons. Our motto: "We own the night."