Friday, July 11, 2008

Moving a carrier, what does it mean?

The Department of Defense announced on July 8, it is moving its only aircraft carrier in the region out of the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman, to better conduct operations in Afghanistan. This fits with other information signaling a reduced emphasis on Iraq and the beginning of a drawdown troops added for the surge, scheduled to begin July 1. But there is potentially a more ominous side to it.

If hostilities against Iran were to begin, the last thing our Navy would want is to have a carrier trapped in the Gulf. The Straits of Hormuz can be easily mined preventing an exit, and floating mines (used effectively by Saddam in the first gulf war) would be an unacceptable hazard. “Sea room” is one of the best protective measures naval forces can use. It gives time to assess a threat and deal with it. Operating in the Gulf 60 to 80 miles from the Iranian coast just doesn't allow enough decision time against a high speed aircraft. This doesn’t mean anything is imminent, but it appears to be the Navy is exercising foresight.

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