8Situational AwarenessEffective Communication Builds Trust

THE FLOODLIT TARMAC at Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, is a beehive of activity as my wingmen and I walk toward the ground crew. Climbing into our sleek F-16 jets, we conduct our preflight checks for this five-hour night combat mission into Iraq.

Our call sign is “Viper 11,” and we are part of a multi-strike package of fourteen aircraft responsible for taking out an SA-3 surface-to-air missile site just outside Najaf in southern Iraq. Intelligence briefed us that the SAMs are active, as are multiple antiaircraft artillery sites. It’s going to be intense.

The powerful turbines whine as we taxi toward the runway. Capt. Dieter “Deetz” Barheis, a weapons school graduate and a talented ...

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