The raids were carried out by two separate U.S. carrier task forces. Aircraft from Task Force 17 (TF 17), commanded by Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher and centered on the carrier USS Yorktown, attacked Jaluit, Mili, and Makin (Butaritari) islands. The Yorktown aircraft inflicted moderate damage to the Japanese naval installations on the islands and destroyed three aircraft. Seven Yorktown aircraft were lost, as well as a floatplane from one of TF 17's cruisers.
Aircraft from TF 8, commanded by Halsey and centered on the carrier USS Enterprise, struck Kwajalein, Wotje, and Taroa. At the same time, cruisers and destroyers bombarded Wotje and Taroa. The strikes inflicted light to moderate damage on the three islands' naval garrisons, sank three small warships and damaged several others, including the light cruiserKatori, and destroyed 15 Japanese aircraft. The heavy cruiser USS Chester was hit and slightly damaged by a Japanese aerial bomb, and six Enterprise aircraft were lost. TFs 8 and 17 retired from the area immediately upon completion of the raids.
The raids had little long-term strategic impact. The IJN briefly sent two aircraft carriers to chase TFs 16 and 17, but quickly abandoned the pursuit and continued their support for the ongoing, successful conquests of the Philippines and Netherlands East Indies. The raids, however, did help lift the morale of the U.S. Navy and American public, still reeling from the Pearl Harbor attack and loss of Wake Island. The raids also provided valuable experience in carrier air operations, which hardened the U.S. carrier groups for future combat against Japanese forces. For their part, the Japanese apparently did not realize that their concept of a perimeter defense using dispersed island garrisons had serious flaws in that the garrisons were too far apart to be sufficiently mutually supporting to prevent penetration by enemy carrier forces. The raids, along with the Doolittle Raid in April 1942, helped convince the IJN's Combined Fleet commander, Isoroku Yamamoto, that he needed to draw the American carriers into battle as soon as possible in order to destroy them. Yamamoto's plan to do so resulted in the Battle of Midway.