Operation Northern Watch History

OPERATION NORTHERN WATCH (AFPN) -- An E-3B Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft refuels along the Iraqi border as part of an Operation Northern Watch mission of enforcing the no-fly zone over northern Iraq. The AWACS is assigned to the 513th Air Control Group at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Gamble)

OPERATION NORTHERN WATCH (AFPN) -- An E-3B Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft refuels along the Iraqi border as part of an Operation Northern Watch mission of enforcing the no-fly zone over northern Iraq. The AWACS is assigned to the 513th Air Control Group at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Gamble)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Staff Sgt. William Hartford and Staff Sgt. Christopher Haider, 39th Maintenance Squadron, conventional maintenance crew chiefs, and Staff Sgt. Jason Harre, 31st Maintenance Squadron, conventional maintenance crew chief from Aviano Air Base, Italy, position the MK-82 bombs on the munitions handling unit trailer for transport to the munitions assembly conveyor here, Sept. 25, 2001. Both are deployed in support of Operation Northern Watch. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Hannen)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Staff Sgt. William Hartford and Staff Sgt. Christopher Haider, 39th Maintenance Squadron, conventional maintenance crew chiefs, and Staff Sgt. Jason Harre, 31st Maintenance Squadron, conventional maintenance crew chief from Aviano Air Base, Italy, position the MK-82 bombs on the munitions handling unit trailer for transport to the munitions assembly conveyor here, Sept. 25, 2001. Both are deployed in support of Operation Northern Watch. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Hannen)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- The last two F-16CJs deployed from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. prepare for their final launch April 12. Shaw personnel and aircraft are returning home after supporting Operation Northern Watch for the last several years.  Operation Northern Watch flew its last operational mission March 17 after 12 successful years of enforcing the no-fly-zone over northern Iraq.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dennis J. Henry Jr.)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- The last two F-16CJs deployed from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. prepare for their final launch April 12. Shaw personnel and aircraft are returning home after supporting Operation Northern Watch for the last several years. Operation Northern Watch flew its last operational mission March 17 after 12 successful years of enforcing the no-fly-zone over northern Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dennis J. Henry Jr.)

OPERATION NORTHERN WATCH -- Staff Sgt. Jason Harre, a conventional maintenance crew chief from the 31st Maintenance Squadron at Aviano Air Base, Italy, swaps out expired FMU-139 A/B fuses from Mark-82 bombs in support of Operation Northern Watch. These assets are apart of the aircraft deployment to Incirlik AB, Turkey. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Hannen)

OPERATION NORTHERN WATCH -- Staff Sgt. Jason Harre, a conventional maintenance crew chief from the 31st Maintenance Squadron at Aviano Air Base, Italy, swaps out expired FMU-139 A/B fuses from Mark-82 bombs in support of Operation Northern Watch. These assets are apart of the aircraft deployment to Incirlik AB, Turkey. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Hannen)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Staff Sgt. Jeff Lease, left, who is deployed to here from the 35th Maintenance Squadron at Misawa Air Base, Japan, and Senior Airman Ben Ramaekers, from the 18th Munitions Squadron at Kadena AB, Japan, unload AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles to complete the 555th Fighter Squadron’s F-16 Fighting Falcon munitions package. Specialists from numerous bases across the world deploy to Incirlik enhancing the 39th Maintenance Squadron munitions flight’s ability to maintain a constant store of munitions in support of Operation Northern Watch. (U.S. Air Force photo)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Staff Sgt. Jeff Lease, left, who is deployed to here from the 35th Maintenance Squadron at Misawa Air Base, Japan, and Senior Airman Ben Ramaekers, from the 18th Munitions Squadron at Kadena AB, Japan, unload AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles to complete the 555th Fighter Squadron’s F-16 Fighting Falcon munitions package. Specialists from numerous bases across the world deploy to Incirlik enhancing the 39th Maintenance Squadron munitions flight’s ability to maintain a constant store of munitions in support of Operation Northern Watch. (U.S. Air Force photo)

OPERATION NORTHERN WATCH -- An F-15E Strike Eagle from the 494th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron applies its speed brake upon touchdown after returning safely to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Jan. 14, following a routine enforcement mission in support of Operation Northern Watch. The Strike Eagle was part of a defensive strike on an Iraqi surface-to air-missile system in northern Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vincent Parker)

OPERATION NORTHERN WATCH -- An F-15E Strike Eagle from the 494th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron applies its speed brake upon touchdown after returning safely to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Jan. 14, following a routine enforcement mission in support of Operation Northern Watch. The Strike Eagle was part of a defensive strike on an Iraqi surface-to air-missile system in northern Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vincent Parker)


Operation Northern Watch was headquartered at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The commanders of the operation were Brigadier General Robin E. Scott, U.S. Air Force and Brigadier General Levent Turkmen, Turkish Air Force.

ONW was the Combined Task Force charged with enforcing the no-fly zone north of the 36th parallel in Iraq and monitoring Iraqi compliance with UN Security Council resolutions 678, 687, and 688.

The northern no-fly zone was not an aggression against Iraq or a violation of its sovereignty, it was a necessary and legitimate measure to limit Iraq's aggressive air activities. The Operation Northern Watch coalition partners -- the United States, United Kingdom, and Turkey -- provided approximately 45 aircraft and more than 1,400 personnel to support Operation Northern Watch. The joint U.S. force includes soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines from the Navy, Army, Air Force and Marine Corps, all operating as part of the United States European Command.

ONW History
Operation Northern Watch was the successor to Operation Provide Comfort, which officially ended in December, 1996. Operation Northern Watch began Jan. 1, 1997, with an initial mandate of six months. The Turkish parliament reviews and renews the ONW mandate semi-annually in June and December. Operation Northern Watch ended March 19, 2003 with the begining of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

Chronology of Significant Events in the Northern No-Fly Zone