The Pentagon’s cost assessment and program evaluation shop, widely known as CAPE, has apparently proposed that the number of aircraft carriers in the U.S. fleet be reduced from eleven to nine. That would effectively reduce the number of carriers that could be forward deployed to two or three on a typical day. So on the days when only two are available, which regional commander needs to go without? Indo-Pacom? Centcom? The European Command? Large-deck, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers are uniquely versatile warfighting systems that can destroy hundreds of targets in enemy territory every day without requiring access to land bases or ports. They also provide early warning of airborne threats and jamming of hostile radars to the entire joint force. Furthermore, they are highly survivable thanks to their mobility, size and layered defenses. Proposing a cut in the carrier force in the midst of the coronavirus crisis is really bad timing. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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