Navy's Carrier Forces Expect Continued Combat Duties in Middle East (UPDATED)

By Sarah Sicard

SAN DIEGO —  Since the Islamic State's offensive into Iraq last year, the Navy has been able to keep at least one carrier strike group in the Middle East. “That’s an indicator that we’re ready to sustain this fight," said Navy Adm. Philip Davidson, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command.

Davidson spoke Feb. 11 at the AFCEA West 2015 conference.

The Navy in September deployed the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group to the Persian Gulf. For 54 days, it was the only carrier strike group in the area and conducted over 2,000 sorties and hit 230 targets, Davidson said.

“That’s a ready force conducting prompt operations at sea and delivering combat success,” he said.

The USS Carl Vinson Strike Group followed the Bush and continues its mission, he noted. The USS Theodore Roosevelt will deploy to the Middle East in the coming weeks to replace the Vinson.

Davidson said the Navy is prepared to continue the current fight but worries about future challenges. Adversaries are threatening U.S. technological dominance, he said. “Today’s fight is evolving rapidly. … Some nation states, America’s competitors and potential adversaries flexing their muscles abroad are matching vastly improved technologies in the air, on and under the sea and in space and cyberspace,” he said. “We cannot discount their aspirations to match their methods of terror with high-end technology whether it’s stolen, bought, seized, hijacked or provided to them.”

Many of these adversaries will attempt to deny the Navy access to its array of electronic suites in future conflicts. The sea service must prepare to operate and win despite contested or degraded conditions, he noted.

Additionally, as the military pivots to the Asia-Pacific region, it likely will face increased "anti-access and area denial" challenges from competitors such as China.

To prepare for A2/AD situations, the Navy is putting a premium on training its forces, he said. Refinements continue at the strike group level and each successive group has received more training in high-intensity warfare, he said.

Correction: A previous headline stated that carrier groups were extending their deployments in the Middle East.

Topics: Defense Department, Homeland Security

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