As reported by Fox News, “The U.S. Navy will not have an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf this fall for the first time in years, President Obama’s nominee to be the Navy’s top officer told Capitol Hill lawmakers Thursday. The gap in the Gulf — expected to last two months — would come at a time when the U.S. is not only launching sustained airstrikes against nearby Islamic State targets, but trying to keep a check on Iranian aggression in the region.
Under questioning by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., at his nomination hearing to be chief of naval operations, Adm. John Richardson acknowledged the Navy would pull the carrier and said this hurts U.S. capability in the region. “Without that carrier, there will be a decrement in our capability there,” Richardson said before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
And so it goes that commander-in-chief Barack Obama can once again lay claim to having achieved something that no previous president has — gapped the Persian Gulf of an American CVBG. Of course lots of folks will say what difference at this point does it make? It’s simple. We will not have a platform by which we can launch strikes against ISIS — not that they’ve been overly effective anyway, since we don’t have G-FACs (Ground Forward Air Controllers).
Also, this means the Iranians — who are truly feeling lucky these days — will be able to freely harass shipping in the Straits of Hormuz and even supply the Houthi rebels they’re supporting in Yemen without fear of an American naval intervention, or blockade. And you can just imagine how the Iranians and other militant Islamic jihadists will spin this to their propaganda advantage.
Just as a point of comparison, during the Reagan years — yes, when we were enjoying seven to eight percent quarterly GDP growth, not this anemic two percent — we had a naval fleet of 575 warships. Today that fleet hovers somewhere around 283. The goal is to reduce our U.S. Navy, a “Global Force for Good” down to 230 warships.
I think we need to educate the progressive socialists that while they may believe the oceans are rising, they are certainly not shrinking. And since the time of the Phoenicians, every great nation or civilization has understood the importance and imperative of a strong maritime force, a Navy. (Doggone, I cannot believe I just said that! You see, that is what happens when Army loses to Navy in football for 13 straight years!!!!)
Ok, back to the task at hand.
The 21st century battlefield is not about massive land forces anymore, such as the forward deployed forces we had during the Cold War. This new battlefield is about power projection, and the best means to achieve that is with a strong naval, maritime presence. Now, let me remind everyone that our U.S. Army actually has conducted more amphibious landings than the Marine Corps. And if you forgot, the plan of action for Haiti had the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division (Light) loaded aboard a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier.
We need to have an open water force that can project our land forces in the critical littorals (coastal areas) worldwide — which was lacking in Benghazi. Regardless, the fact that the United States cannot do a relief in place between two CVBGs is very telling about what the Obama “fundamental transformation” has meant for our military.
And what is even more vital is that we support Egypt in its fight against the militant Islamic jihadists hunkered down with sanctuary in the Sinai peninsula — courtesy of Obama-backed Muslim Brotherhood member and former Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi. If the Suez Canal transit point gets cut off, then we have the possibility of having ZERO American naval forces back in the Persian Gulf in a timely manner.
Here is the OPTEMPO (Operations Tempo) facing the USS Theodore Roosevelt,:“It has been busy since arriving in the 5th Fleet, the Navy’s command over the Persian Gulf and surrounding area in the Middle East. In addition to assisting ’round-the-clock sorties against ISIS in Iraq, the carrier pulled out of the Gulf in late April to trail an Iranian convoy suspected of smuggling weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen. The USS Theodore Roosevelt trailed the Iranian convoy for days, using aircraft to provide continuous coverage. In late April, Iran also seized a Marshall Islands-flagged commercial vessel, prompting ships from the Roosevelt battle group to begin escorts while U.S.- and British-flagged ships transited the Strait of Hormuz.
The U.S. Navy says 10-month deployments, including the presence of two carriers in the Persian Gulf between 2011 and 2013, have contributed to the wear on the force, including the decommissioning of USS Enterprise which lowered the number of aircraft carriers in the U.S. Navy from 11 to 10.”
This is why we must evaluate our military capacity not on budget but global security requirements. We have several geographic areas of responsibility (AORs) — PACOM, EUCOM, SOUTHCOM, CENTCOM, AFRICOM. We need to assess our national security strategy as to what is needed in these areas from now out to the next 15 to 20 years. Our force should be built on the current and projected threats, and the ability to project power into these geographic AORs not just for combat operations, but as a deterrent, and the ability to conduct combined operations with other nations — and humanitarian assistance.
Let us never forget that the first responsibility of our government is to “provide for the common defense.” I am sure the ghost of John Paul Jones is very angry. His famous words from 1779 seemed disregarded by Barack Obama. When he was asked to surrender during an engagement with a British frigate, Captain Jones replied, “I have not yet begun to fight.”
Imagine a leader in America today saying such a thing. Wouldn’t that be something?