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Down to One Middle East Carrier

 Rear Adm. Kevin Sweeney, commander of the Harry S. Truman Strike Group, addresses the media on the pier alongside the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) on Wednesday. US Navy Photo

Rear Adm. Kevin Sweeney, commander of the Harry S. Truman Strike Group, addresses the media on the pier alongside the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) on Wednesday. US Navy Photo

Looming budget restrictions means the U.S. Navy will reduce the American presence in U.S. Central Command from two aircraft carriers to one for the immediate future, a defense official told USNI News on Wednesday.

A deployment of the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), planned for later in February, has been delayed to preserve operating a carrier in the Middle East well into 2014, the official said.

The move would save “hundreds of millions,” in fuel and maintenance reaquired to operate the Truman and the accompanying guided-missile cruiser that was part of the planned deployment, the official said.

Instead, the Truman will be kept in a ready status near its homeport in Norfolk, Virginia, in case the ship, its crew and carrier air wing would need to surge in support of forces abroad.

Currently, the John C. Stennis (CVN-74) is alone in the region and will be relieved by the Eisenhower (CVN-69), which returned from Central Command in December for maintenance.

The change from the Pentagon comes after the Navy released its plan for dealing with the looming cuts from sequestration, the ongoing budget shortfalls with the stymied Fiscal Year 2013 budget, and the ongoing continuing resolution. Combined they could force the service to quickly reduce its budget by $9 billion primarily from the service’s operations and maintenance accounts. Those cuts could reduce flying hours from deployed carrier air wings by 55 percent, cancel naval operations focused on drug- and human-traffic interdiction in South America and reduce training overall.

“Facing budget uncertainty—including a Continuing Resolution and the looming potential for across-the-board sequestration cuts—the U.S. Navy made this request to the Secretary and he approved, Pentagon spokesman George Little said. “This prudent decision enables the U.S. Navy to maintain these ships to deploy on short notice in the event they are needed to respond to national security contingencies.”

Responding to requests from Central Command combatant commanders, the Navy has had two carriers in the region for the past two years. The arrangement resulted in nine months of a dual carrier presence in the Middle East, until today’s announcement. In the past, U.S. carriers have been responsible for up to a third of the air strikes in Afghanistan since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom.


  • Sad day for America when the commander-in-chief is awol. Can be sure foreign governments are taking note of his lack of leadership.

    • Militaryguy

      Is it a sad day? Do we need two carriers in the Middle East? What do we need them to do and at what cost? The military is just one lever of power. If we focus strictly on military force while gutting our economy, underfunding our infrastructure, and forgoing investment in the future; we haven’t won anything. Instead we’ve played our enemy’s game while they watched us bleed dry. A VIP visited my ship once and asked me what I thought about military cuts. I told him that I worked for him and asked what he would like the military to do for the country. Only then can we talk about the bill.

      • jaxtotenn

        Does the term “offering up a gold watch” mean anything? Policy should dictate strategy,,,,,then strategy dictates operations then tactics blah blah. Our problem is that we have historically not done this, and this administration, without even a budget has provided nothing upon which to base a strategy. I havent looked in a while,,,but do we even have a current National Security Policy? SECNAV visited my ship once and he was ecstatic that we had the capability to make plastic discs from plastic refuse, because that would help him keep the tree huggers off his back. Priorities, priorities.

  • Ben Hedges

    The cost of operating these carrier strike forces cannot be justified, not when it costs more than building a destroyer to have an extra carrier in the Gulf for a few months.
    For too long not just the Navy, but Homeland Security and other Agencies have had a blank check, time to run leaner.

  • Art

    How many subs can u count

  • Our power is dependent on the economy. It is a surging economy which will provide the underlying means to defend US. Bush’s dual wars have cost the country 1.2 trillion while the terrorist spend maybe a few million. The terror war has busted our economy.

    1.2 trillion would have funded several carrier task forces along with a balanced budget with terrorist being attacked by special forces etc.


    As long as Blacks can keep their free Obama Cell Phones and welfare checks.