An F/A-18E Super Hornet from the Sunliners of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 81 - photo USS Carl Vinson
15 January 2015 by Mark Urban Diplomatic and defence editor, BBC Newsnight
How is progress measured on board the US aircraft carrier which is playing a key role in the fight against Islamic State?
The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, plying the waters of the Gulf, represents a big slice of the coalition effort being used to pound the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Syria and Iraq - an onslaught that has been going on for the best part of five months now.
It is a floating town of more than 5,000 souls and 60 fighter aircraft engaged in a costly and complex campaign.
Each time it launches one of its jets, catapulting it over the green waters south of Iran, the event is so dramatic and inherently dangerous that it would be understandable if many a spectator forgot the question - is this air offensive working?
It's extremely hard for Western reporters to seek the answers to that on the ground, in Mosul or Raqqa. But we can be on board the carrier, speaking to those carrying out this operation, as I was for four days, gauging their sense of the task, its challenges, and whether it's achieving results.
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