The United States Navy aircraft carrier, USS Eisenhower, has left the building, aka the Middle East. There is no relief aircraft carrier on station. The carrier gap will be as much as two months. Is the Navy to blame for this? Not hardly. Years of budget squeezes, sequestration, and Congressional stagnation have led to this. Read the bad news below.
As written and reported by Defense Now!
WASHINGTON – The Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group chopped out of the European theater of operations Dec. 26, headed home to Norfolk after months of operating in the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean, where the strike jets of Carrier Air Wing 3 flew hundreds of missions against ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq. The homecoming is set for Dec. 30 – two days shy of the Navy’s stated goal of bringing the group home in seven months.
US carrier groups regularly relieve each other in theater, often handing off duties within sight of the other in the Persian Gulf or Arabian Sea. But this time, no carrier is in the Eisenhower’s wake.
The relief ship, the carrier George H. W. Bush, has yet to leave Norfolk – and is unlikely to do so before the Jan. 20 inauguration of the Trump administration, according to a Navy source. The gap could last as long as two months, sources said, between the time the Eisenhower left the combat theater and the Bush arrives.
And that gap comes at a particularly inopportune time. Numerous media reports indicate intelligence organizations and analysts are on the lookout for provocative actions by potential antagonists – in particular Russia, China, North Korea, Iran or ISIS. Terror alerts, according to media reports, are high in many regions, including Europe, the Mideast and North America, due to a confluence of factors – the new year, ISIS’ diminishing power in the face of counterattacks in Iraq and Syria, and a natural tendency to test a new administration.
Other Central Command carrier gaps have taken place in the past, usually when a strike group is needed elsewhere or maintenance issues at home have forced ships to deploy late. The Pentagon plans for such events, often dispatching expeditionary US Air Force units to the region to pick up the slack – something that seems to have taken place now.
The newest gap is not a surprise, and actually has been months in the making …..
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