At a time of heightened tensions throughout the Middle East over the Iran nuclear deal and the spread of ISIS, the US will be forced to recall its aircraft carrier from the Persian Gulf, Navy officials told CNN.
In the fall, the USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier will return to the US for scheduled maintenance in October. However, the Roosevelt’s replacement, the USS Harry S. Truman, will not arrive in the region until the winter of 2016 — leaving a period of approximately two months in which the US will not have a carrier in the Persian Gulf.
“Overextending the Navy in 2010 to 2013 caused our need to recover maintenance and readiness that caused this gap,” an unnamed Navy official told CNN.
“The increased frequency and extension of carrier strike group deployments increased wear on the force, which led to increased maintenance and repair requirements and lengthened maintenance availability periods. That recovery time is now upon us.”
However, officials assured CNN that the lack of an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf will not affect US military capabilities in the region. As a stop-gap measure, the Air Force can move more land-based aircraft to military bases throughout the Persian Gulf and the wider region.
Naval officials have also told the Navy Times on background that although the absence of an aircraft carrier in the region will be a setback, it is necessary for the Navy to continue to operate with a decreased budget.
“As a result of meeting increased [combatant commander] demand in previous years, sequestration’s impact on our shipyards, and having a force structure of 10 (rather than 11) carriers, the Navy is not scheduled to provide a continuous carrier presence in some operating regions in fiscal year 2016,” Navy spokesman Commander William Marks told the Navy Times.
The US fields more aircraft carriers than any other nation earth, with 10 commissioned nuclear powered fleet carriers. Each of these carriers can function as a mobile mini-American air base, which allow the US to project power far away from its own shores.
As the after effects of sequestration and a declining Naval budget are continued to be felt, the cost-benefit of fielding a constant carrier presence in multiple parts of the world may become a more open question.
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