ANG Pilot Recalls Air War

Coalition pilots who flew sorties in the opening days of Operation Iraqi Freedom followed an air strategy keyed to strike specific enemy targets and to preserve Iraqi infrastructure and minimize civilian deaths, according to Maj. Michael Norton, a South Carolina Air National Guard pilot who flew his F-16 into battle on March 19, 2003. Norton relayed his experience of the air war to reporters at the Pentagon on Monday. There was recognition, said Norton, that anything destroyed would have to be rebuilt, but, “more important than that” was “minimizing civilian casualties.” The 15-year veteran added that coalition officials took a “much more restrictive interpretation” of the laws concerning civilians near legitimate targets.