April 24, 2019
In a rare double-up deployment close to Iran, the U.S. Navy currently has two carrier strike groups in the Mediterranean Sea. Just a few days sail from the Arabian Sea, the Stennis and Lincoln carrier strike groups conducted joint exercises last week.
The Navy’s current posture gives President Trump significantly added means of deterrence and action against Iran. It’s a relevant concern in that U.S.-Iran tensions are escalating quickly.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday ended U.S. sanctions waivers on nations which import Iranian oil. Threatening the already fragile Iranian economy, that action makes the Iranian hardliners likely to escalate against America. Indeed, they’re saying as much. Responding to Pompeo, the head of the revolutionary guard corps navy threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, which controls the Persian Gulf’s vital energy supply highway to the world. Also evincing Iran’s increasing fury, a new hardliner commanding officer of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was appointed over the weekend.
Were Iran to attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz, the U.S. would rely on at least two carrier strike groups to lead efforts to reopen the Strait. Those carriers would act in tandem, deploying their air wings to strike Iranian naval, air, and missile forces while supporting the carriers escort ships in defending the fleet. And unlike in a prospective conflict with China, U.S. aircraft carriers could dominate Iranian naval and air warfare forces.
Perhaps the U.S. deployment is coincidental, but I doubt it. The U.S. Navy is overstretched, especially in relation to its aircraft carriers and submarines. Its Mediterranean deployment appears calculated with an anticipated conflict in mind.