The U.S.’s lone naval carrier in the Persian Gulf has spent more time outside the region than in — primarily due to the Obama administration’s willingness to bend to Iran’s will in order to ensure a successful nuclear deal, a military analyst suggested.
According to data compiled by the Hill, the U.S. Navy maintained a two-carrier presence in the region in 2010, due in part to Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz. But the Pentagon’s budget cuts forced one of the carriers to exit last year.
The Hill conducted an analysis of America’s naval strength in the area and found that the USS Harry Truman — the sole carrier for the last year in the area — has actually spent more hours sailing waters outside the Persian Gulf than inside it during the past six months.
The reported reduction in strength comes at the same time the United States is trying to forge a deal with Iran to limit or halt its nuclear program, in exchange for eased economic sanctions. The deal currently in place is an interim plan that the United States wants to make permanent.
Navy officials deny any reduction in military strength in the region, and say they’ve actually upped the craft count with smaller, swifter ships with better navigational and patrol abilities.
But a key naval analyst thinks the reduced carrier presence is no coincidence, but rather a purposeful act designed to communicate cooperation to the Iranian government.
“A carrier is an effective symbol and instrument of national power,” retired Vice Adm. Peter Daly, CEO of the U.S. Naval Institute, told The Hill. “Its mere presence is a deterrence to bad actors and bad behavior, and if necessary, it is an instrument of force. That’s true in the Gulf and that’s true anywhere in the world.”
The Hill gathered its data about the reduced carrier strength from public information posted by officials on Facebook. It found that the Truman spent 101 days inside the Gulf of Oman and the North Arabian Sea between August 2013 and January 2014.
During the same period, the Truman only spent 45 days in the Persian Gulf and another 11 days in transit or in unknown spots — a marked difference from what The Hill found for the same time period a year earlier, when two U.S. carriers were located squarely in the region.
Iran, meanwhile, has condemned any U.S. presence in the area. Iran over the weekend claimed it was sending two warships off America’s eastern coast, in the Atlantic Ocean, as a direct response to America’s presence in the Gulf.