January 15th, 2013
05:56 PM ET

Budget cuts could pull carrier from Persian Gulf

By Barbara Starr

While there have been months of dire predictions from the Pentagon about spending cuts, one of the most visible for the military could resonate across the Middle East at a time when uncertainty continues to grip the region.

The U.S. Navy may face the prospect of not being able to routinely keep two aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf region, which has been a longtime requirement for any ability to launch military campaigns in that part of the world.

The United States would have to scale back to one carrier in the region if Congress can't avoid deep automatic spending cuts, including some $500 billion directed at the Pentagon over 10 years, a U.S. military official directly familiar with the Navy's latest preliminary budget analysis tells CNN.

The Navy has kept an on-and-off presence with two carriers in the Gulf region during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

And tensions with Iran intensified a year ago as Tehran threatened a blockade of U.S. carriers into the Persian Gulf.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta extended a directive to keep two carriers in that region last summer.

Navy planners are examining how the ballet of carrier presence around the world would work with any massive cuts in spending, also known as sequester.

The math goes something like this: The Navy currently has 10 carriers it can deploy. For the past several years, two have been required for the Gulf region; one in the western Pacific and one always in transit to one of those regions.

With three to four carriers deployed at any one time, two carriers are in a training mode and the rest typically are in routine maintenance.

But with budget cuts, the Navy would not be able to keep up.

"It likely means the number of deployments drop because intermediate maintenance is slowed," the official said. "Think of it as the 10,000-mile check up on your car. We aren't even talking about the big stuff like refueling the nuclear system."

With these cuts, the official said, the Navy will "lose the ability to surge" its carrier force by quickly sending those ships to a crisis area, he said.

If a second carrier is needed in the Middle East, it might have to come from Asia, which is also a top national security priority for the Obama administration, potentially leaving the Asia region without a carrier for a period of time.

There is no firm estimate on how much money would be saved by cutting back to one carrier in the Persian Gulf.

But savings would come from maintenance cuts, personnel costs and even from a reduction in aircraft and flying for the air wings that train and deploy with a carrier.

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  27. Brian

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  33. Jannani

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people. ha ha ha
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    January 16, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Reply
    • BigShiz

      And all the dictators and monarchies in the middle east are way better.

      January 16, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Reply
    • jay

      One should also add America trained Bin Laden and helped train and form Al Queda as well as supply them with weapons and aid in the Reagan Administration under state sponsered Terrorism now the epitamy of hypocrites in a Global war on Terrorism causing the deaths of millions in Iraq ,Afghanistan and syria of civilians in their misguided coos which only stem the increases of and growth of Terrorism.

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        * Al-Queda and other factions

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  34. some guy

    wow only 3 of 11 are working. Looks like the Navy does not have a budget problem but a fleet maintenance problem. They are not protecting any "other areas" they are sitting in US harbors. Thank god the budget is being cut. Navvy needs to shape up fix its boats and start using the 8 that are just lying around.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Reply
    • figuringitout615

      Some Guy:
      Clearly you have no idea how the Navy works or what is required to keep everything operational. Try working the shipyards for awhile then open your mouth. Cutting the military budget right now is incredibly stupid. They should cut the pay of politicians, that would help cut down on spending, cancel any vacations being paid for by tax payers and personal transportation should be paid for by politicians.

      January 16, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Reply
      • some guy

        Whatever it is , the fact remains that 8 out of 11 Aircraft carriers which were meant to be patrolling the high seas (perhaps a certain number under each unified combatant commands) are in the dock. They are either being repaired or are in training. Which means only 3 of 11 Aircraft carriers are operational. Instead of focusing the budget on the repair and "re operationalizing" its carrier fleet. The NAVY top brass, SEC NAVY, SEC DEF and Senate Armed Services Committee, along with Republicans and Military contractor lobbies (not the least) are pushing for a budget to buy new Aircraft carriers. Im sorry but the american people are dying of poverty not Chinese naval gunfire. And being a nation that manufactures its own aircraft carriers , it should have no excuse to waste funds on new ships while the present ones are not being utilized to their fullest capacity. Aircraft Carriers are costly sovereign pieces of US Territory with billions of equipment in them for war fighting. The US Armed Forces can not have a "Use and throw" mentality towards such costly equipment. If there were maintenance schedules then atleast 50% of the ships could have been optional. This is not war time and they are not being bombed or torpedoed for 8 out of 11 to be in the docks.

        January 16, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
      • Desert Tortoise

        To keep one ship at sea continuously you generally need three of that type ship. One is deployed for six months, one is training up for deployment for six months and one has just returned and will spend six months being overhauled, old crew members will rotate out, new ones join and much shore training occurs.
        That means to keep two carriers in the Persian Gulf, one in the Pacific (none in the Atlantic btw) and one in transit, you should have twelve carriers. We run on ten, and do this by cutting the time required for overhauls and accelerating pre deployment training. It is rough on personnel. We should have twelve carriers to do this right, but that would cost tens of billions of dollars more per year to do. Just the payroll of a single carrier, minus the air wing, is over half a billion per year.

        January 16, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • mary

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      January 16, 2013 at 2:38 pm | Reply
  35. NNN

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  36. Johnny miranda

    we need the aircraft carrier units in-place all you people need to know this when somthing happens you will blame the military for not having enough equipment in- place dont let them take away our strenght

    January 16, 2013 at 10:58 am | Reply
    • More Proof We Own You

      johnny boy . . . keep up the good work. . . . "when something happens" you say?

      hey johnny boy, you know and I know, just like all of us isralies know . . . something is going to happen because we are going to start crap with Iran. We are dang sure we;re going to make something happen so we can kill more people so we can rule the Middle East . . .and eventually the WORLD!

      We are the genie and we're not going back into the bottle . . . we're bent on destroy anyone who opposes our new world order . . . we are the israelies! we are bad!

      Get used to it!

      Carry on johnny boy!

      israel forever!!

      January 16, 2013 at 11:13 am | Reply
  37. John

    "one in the western pacific"...lol Would someone tell me the last time America used military power in Latin America? As far as I know it was Grenada, which was 30 years ago!

    January 16, 2013 at 10:05 am | Reply
  38. BigShiz

    It will never happen,its just a empty threat so the brass can get more money. With the cuts they'll still have more than 600 billion next year. If they cut the f35 and the osprey programs(and they don't need them) they'll save over 120 billion next year and 1.5 trillion over the next 12 year's.

    January 15, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Reply
    • Andy

      Probably cannot cut the F35 program at this point, well possibly could but would then have to procure alternative aircraft not to mention the fact that it would be screwing with the defence of allied partner nations that have also contributed to the development of the aircraft to this point.

      January 16, 2013 at 9:55 pm | Reply
    • Desert Tortoise

      You won't operate anywhere defended by the Russian systems S-300 and it's derivatives, it's Chinese equivalent or S-400 without stealth aircraft. Current aircraft like F-15, F-16 and F/A-18 will be shot down long before they reach their weapons launch basket. F-22 and F-35 are all we will have if we have to fight a nation with the most modern air defenses.

      January 16, 2013 at 11:01 pm | Reply
      • BigShiz

        The Chinese are at least 10 years from having a 5th gen fighter and then it will still not compete with are air defense. The pak fa can't see our f22. The f35 is not made for air to air combat,it can do it but it's for ground strikes. Any of those aircraft you pointed out can be fitted with the same electronics and cost a fraction of the f35. The only difference is no stealth. We don't need the f35,if we get into s fight with China or Russia they will be throwing ballistic missiles not dog fighting.

        January 17, 2013 at 11:32 am |
  39. Jannani

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    January 15, 2013 at 8:28 pm | Reply
    • BigShiz

      Say something new.

      January 15, 2013 at 9:02 pm | Reply
      • More Proof We Own You

        @ bigshiz . . . .keep up the hate and confusion. Good work!

        Bibi is proud of you.

        israel forever!

        January 16, 2013 at 11:15 am |
      • BigShiz

        Ohoh its the gay Persian Bibi Pretending to be a Jew again. You need help bro

        January 16, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • Clinton

      Jannani – You don't even know how stupid you are, that's the sad part, you're a drone... an idiot that has no idea what the truth really is. The US did not kill a million iraqis, not even close, but you're so stupid, you believe whatever some other mindless drone said... i feel bad for people like you... You're part of the problem but don't even know it... It's so sad that people like you are so stupid you don't have the capability to think outside of what you've been told.

      January 16, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Reply
      • George Patton

        Good grief Clinton, do you really believe in that mumbo-jumbo you posted above or are you just trying to be funny? Unfortunately, some people may read it and believe since they know no better!

        January 16, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
      • Quinton

        That's OK George, just ignore my twin brother Clinton above. He's been that way since he joined the right-wing Tea Party Movement.

        January 16, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
  40. George Patton

    This could be a step in the right direction. We really have no true need of ships in the Persian Gulf let alone the Indian Ocean. Let the Russians patrol that part of the world for a change or better yet, let India do it since they have far more national interests there than we have. We need to get our own economic house in order and let these countries take care of themselves!

    January 15, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Reply
    • More Proof We Own You

      Hey george . . . what you say makes sense but it goes against our desire to kill Iranians and wage war. We are the beast and we need victioms. We are the israelis and we demand blood, especially American blood. We love war.

      Yipppppppppppppppppppeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! israel forever!

      All this American money spent on our defense and on our zine-0-ist goal of ruling the world makes be cream my pants.

      January 16, 2013 at 11:18 am | Reply
      • Brian

        foolish reply – get a grip, man

        January 25, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
  41. Portland tony

    It may save some lives, prevent stupid assumptions by our adversaries, but the crew gets paid no matter, the airwing flies no matter and the only savings would be in less wear and tear on the ship. Of course training would suffer and there's no price on that.

    January 15, 2013 at 6:41 pm | Reply
    • Desert Tortoise

      The air wing doesn't "fly no matter" if the ship is in port. Squadrons can and occasionally do stand down when there is no money to fly. I have been there and it is very demoralizing.

      January 16, 2013 at 11:02 pm | Reply

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