There’s been a lot of talk recently about the threat posed to U.S. aircraft carriers by the anti-access/area-denial strategies of countries like China. If you understand how resilient and well-defended U.S. aircraft carriers are, then you probably already know these fears are exaggerated. However, here’s something else to consider: If forward-deployed aircraft carriers are at risk from Chinese or Russian missiles, what does that say about overseas bases? What it says is that they’re even more vulnerable, because unlike the carriers they aren’t moving. You can disrupt an attack on a carrier strike group, and by the time the enemy reconstitutes the warships will be far away — hiding in thousands of square miles of ocean. That’s not an option with land bases, since their location is fixed. No matter how many times you disrupt an attack on them, eventually enemy weapons will get through. So aircraft carriers are intrinsically more survivable than land bases against enemies implementing anti-access/area-denial strategies. I have written a commentary for The National Interest here.
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