CNO: Two carriers in the gulf region is unlikely

By David Larter 
Staff writer

The Navy’s top officer said Tuesday he would oppose sending a second carrier to the Persian Gulf region.

During a live video question-and-answer session with sailors, Chief of Naval Operations Jon Greenert said he is satisfied with the level of naval forces in the Middle East, and said the fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria shouldn’t require more ships or carriers.

“I don’t think [current operations] will affect our deployments in the Middle East. … We don’t need more forces in Central Command,” he said.

In response to a sailor’s question, Greenert said sending a second carrier to the gulf is probably not in the cards.

“I don’t think it’s likely,” he said. “I certainly would not be in favor of going to two carriers in the gulf.”

The Navy had two carrier strike groups deployed to the Persian Gulf for most of 2012 until budget cuts forced the Navy to drop back to one carrier.

The strain of the two-carrier presence produced ripple effects that still plague the Navy today. A return to two carriers would almost certainly scuttle the Navy’s efforts to reign in the nine- to 10-month deployments for strike groups and amphibious ready groups, and get maintenance schedules back on track.

Greenert also said sailors in the Fifth Fleet shouldn’t expect a return of hazardous duty pay for their service in the gulf or the Arabian Sea, but said it is under review.

“As it stands now, it is not determined to be needed,” he said. “The folks who are steaming today out in the [Persian] Gulf and conducting those operations are not viewed as being under the circumstances of hazardous duty pay. But we’ll continue to look at that year by year. It’s really conducted by Central Command.”??

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