50% cut in strike capacity, in self defense of the fleet, in defense of other gulf assets (like Abqaiq …any damage there will drive prices up worldwide). And what about the readiness, and maintenance of what we have? Do you imagine that corners are not being cut as budget limitations hit the street level on the hangar decks?
U.S. to reduce presence in Gulf from two carrier groups to oneWASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy, amid major budget cuts, has decided to limit its presence to one aircraft carrier strike group in the Gulf.Officials said the Navy would maintain an aircraft carrier group in the Gulf in 2014, down from two a year earlier. They said the group would be trained for a range of missions, including counter-mining and ballistic missile defense amid the threat from Iran.The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. U.S. Department of Defense photo
"It will be one in the Western Pacific carrier strike group, one in the Arabian Gulf for — as we call, it one-one in each theater," U.S. Navy operations director Adm. Jonathan Greenert said.In a briefing on July 19, Greenert said the carrier strike group would seek to fulfill the requirements of the military’s Central Command, responsible for the Gulf and much of the Middle East. But the admiral said sequestration, the term for major budget cuts, could reduce capabilities."The broad range of missions that we take there, ballistic missile defense, maritime intercept, sea control, as you mentioned, counter-piracy, all the way up to surface-to-surface missiles, you know, launching, counter-mining, that broad view we have to look at and perhaps tailor by unit, because of the money that we receive being so hard to predict out ahead," Greenert said. “It would be a little different for each unit, so we have to watch this very closely on who we would send, if called upon in a contingency."Greenert acknowledged that the planned deployment fell short of naval requirements. The Navy had planned to send an average of 1.7 strike groups in 2014."In a given year, we could send 1.7 over, but that money spent on operations this year would be invested there, not in training," Greenert said. “It just wouldn’t be enough. And therefore, you’re mortgaging or you’re foreclosing, I should say, next year’s deployment, because those folks will not be trained, unless somehow you scramble and get money through the year, and that would be high risk."Greenert said Iran has reduced hostile naval activities in the Gulf in 2013. But he dismissed any link between the Iranian reduction and the removal of the second U.S. Navy carrier group from the Gulf in January."And you would say, ‘Well, what does that compared to, say, last January?’ And I’d say, “Much lower," Greenert said. “From what I have seen and kind of looked at that, I didn’t see that the carrier presence impacted the activity level of either the Iranian navy or the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps]."
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