There has been much made of a recent carrier gap in the Persian Gulf. There was a two-month period (if memory serves me) when we had no carrier group in the gulf to carry out strikes against ISIL. This gap was a rarity for a theater (CENTCOM) that we have historically--for many decades now--kept a carrier on station.
So guess what happened with one of our scarce carrier assets?
The USS Harry S. Truman was crossing international waters in the Strait of Hormuz when Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRCGN) conducted a live-fire exercise right nearby, according to a statement.
An Iranian navy attack craft fired several unguided rockets near the carrier, officials said. A French frigate, the U.S. destroyer USS Bulkeley and other commercial traffic were also in the area at the time of Saturday's incident.
It is absolutely stupid to put one of our scarce carriers into the constricted waters of the Persian Gulf where short-range Iranian rockets could hit the carrier.
Are you really telling me that our vast regional coalition does not have a land airbase with room for 60 American aircraft to conduct the strikes that Truman will carry out?
I've said it before, it is folly bordering on dereliction of duty to dangle expensive naval assets in the Persian Gulf that gives Iran the opportunity--and incentive--to strike first and gather a scalp and propaganda victory in the first hours of a war.
The advantage our carriers give us is the ability to strike targets at a distance while staying away from most enemy assets. Why abandon that advantage by sailing carriers in the Gulf?
And this applies to other high value ships like our high-end destroyers deployed forward, too.
If our Navy is truly giving up on numbers to put more capabilities on a smaller number of ships (by truncating production of the LCS/frigate to free up money for more firepower on the rest of the fleet) this lesson has to be fully explored.
If we have fewer but more capable ships in 7th Fleet, for example, in the western Pacific, that just gives China the incentive to try a theater-wide Pearl Harbor against our fewer but better ships.
If that's the case, we need to avoid putting ships more capable than the LCS/frigate within range of potential enemies. Other than for show-the-flag missions, nothing we can't afford to lose and still win the naval war should be dangled temptingly in front of a potential enemy.