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US carrier groups on the move

Bert

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Just picked this one up.  Not much news around to get other
perspectives but it seems US carrier groups are on the move.



U.S.: Carrier Groups Converging in the Middle East?
www.stratfor.com

Summary

The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is on the move in the
Atlantic Ocean, possibly headed for the Mediterranean Sea. The Roosevelt's
movements could lead to the convergence of three U.S. carrier battle groups
in the Middle East, where tensions are escalating over Syrian involvement in
Lebanon and Iranian statements about its nuclear program. With three carrier
battle groups in the region, the United States would send a strong message
and give leaders in Tehran and Damascus more to think about.

Analysis

The United States could be in the process of moving two more aircraft carrier
battle groups to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf. With the
USS Harry S. Truman already in the Persian Gulf, the additional carriers
would combine to create a formidable U.S. military force in the region. This
development would not be lost on the leaders of Syria and Iran, two countries
at loggerheads with the United States over Lebanon and nuclear weapons.

The Truman has been on station in the Persian Gulf since November 2004 in
support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Outbound from Singapore, the USS Carl
Vinson is currently crossing the Indian Ocean. It originally was expected to
return to the Western Pacific Ocean, where it had been operating, but instead
it turned west and headed for the Indian Ocean.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt has just completed an air-wing certification, one
of the last steps before a major deployment. The carrier has a history in the
Mediterranean, including combat operations over the Balkans during Operation
Allied Force. If the Roosevelt is indeed headed to the Mediterranean, it will
be the first time since February 2004 that there have been as many as three
U.S. aircraft carriers in Middle Eastern waters.

Each of the three Nimitz-Class carriers can operate an air wing of about 85
fighter, attack, antisubmarine, airborne-early-warning and rotary-wing
aircraft. The strike aircraft are capable of deploying precision-guided
munitions and, with aerial refueling, can operate far from their carrier. The
battle groups are self-sufficient and can operate almost indefinitely in the
region.

Because of budget constraints, the actual number of aircraft on each carrier
is likely less than 85, but three carrier air wings would nevertheless
represent a formidable force in the region. Indeed, the air wings on each of
these carriers are more powerful than most militaries in the region. Given
the atrophied state of Syria's military, one of these air wings would be
sufficient to eliminate Damascus' ability to project power in Lebanon.
Similarly, one carrier air wing would be capable of causing significant
damage to Iran's nuclear facilities.

The carriers' air wings would compliment an already powerful U.S. military
presence in the Middle East, which includes major air bases in Turkey, Qatar,
the United Arab Emirates and Diego Garcia. In addition to the more than
100,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, the 15th and 22nd Marine Expeditionary units are
located in the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean, respectively.

With two or more carrier air wings in the waters around the Middle East,
Washington would have more options should it decide to take military action
against Iran or Syria. While this is unlikely in the immediate future, the
presence of such a formidable force gives the United States leverage to
influence events in Lebanon and Iran.
 

pbi

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I wonder if this had any effect on the decision process of the Syians, who seem to have picked up the withdrawal process a bit.

Cheers
 

Bert

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Very likely.

Seems if the Israelis and the Palestinians situation is improving, its a good time to influence
Syria and Iran to stop supporting Hezbollah and other proxies.  The Palestinian community
is highly fractional. 

Another interesting development in Lebanon is the similarity to the Ukrainian "orange revolution"
phenonemon.  It suggests the Lebanese are seeking political and social stablization that has
indirect influences on the Palestinians.  The US likely sees this as an opportunity to stabilize
the region.  Without a bigger stick, I doubt the Syrians and the Iranians are likely to stop
influencing Lebanon.  A civil war in Lebanon is not what the region needs right now.
 
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