In keeping with most of what Obama does.
If anything, the administration’s posture has gotten worse. It’s now less informative. And therefore less responsible. It’s almost like the administration is trying to impress people who don’t know any better with the fact that we have a bigger ship to move to the Gulf of Aden than the Iranians have. The Navy knows better than that kindergarten logic, of course, as do the Iranians. But apparently our media don’t.
Weird move to put carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt off Yemen
Unfortunately, there continue to be reasons to criticize the Obama administration for its operationally incoherent policies on using military force.
Today, we are treated to the news that USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) has left the Persian Gulf and is heading for the Gulf of Aden. This is being explained as a move to intercept Iranian arms deliveries to Houthi rebels:
In a stepped-up response to Iranian backing of Shiite rebels in Yemen, the Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is steaming toward the waters off Yemen to beef up security and join other American ships that are prepared to intercept any Iranian vessels carrying weapons to the Houthi rebels.
This explanation, by itself, is problematic. Theodore Roosevelt is the wrong platform for this role. Really the wrong platform — a point you may simply have to be a Navy sailor to appreciate.
The carrier will not participate directly in any arms-interdiction activities, such as maneuvering to force a suspect ship to stop and allow itself to be boarded, or conducting the actual boarding. The role the carrier could conceivably fill — providing maritime air reconnaissance and air cover for surface combatants performing such intercepts — can be adequately supported by aircraft operating from Djibouti. In fact, the aircraft that fill this role today, such as P-3Cs, P-8s, and the SH-60 and MH-60 Seahawk helicopters that operate from the destroyers and cruisers, are better suited for the task than the carrier air wing aircraft. Command and control for a beefed up maritime interdiction effort can be exercised from Djibouti as well — if that’s necessary. A U.S. Navy surface combatant could also host a task force commander for such an operation.
Meanwhile, the carrier is being pulled off of the mission to provide combat air support over Iraq. This makes no sense, if we’re serious about having air assets available for use in Iraq and Syria. (Oddly enough, Roosevelt is leaving the Persian Gulf at the same time as the French carrier FS Charles de Gaulle (R91), which has also been providing strike sorties over Iraq and Syria.)
We haven’t been told the particulars (and we won’t be), but it’s virtually certain that Roosevelt‘s departure from the Gulf removes most or all of her 50 strike-fighters from the Iraq-Syria fight. That’s a lot of strike-fighters to lose.