is going around that the US is preparing to engage Iran
in the only kind of diplomacy either regime is really prepared to attempt: Gunboat Diplomacy.
But is it true?
New York Times
, as well as the Navy Times
say that the USS Stennis (CVN-74)
could be underway to the gulf as early as the first week of January, where it would arrive in Feb and overlap with the presence of the USS Eisenhower
(CVN-69) for about two months. Other carriers
are also in a position to deploy,
although it would muck up the training and maintenance cycle considerably. Kitty Hawk, Reagan and Nimitz would all be candidates for the short end of
that stick, probably in that order. Skeptical bloggers
note that we saw this just a couple of months ago
when Eisenhower relieved enterprise and that nothing will likely happen (it bears mentioning that last time, there were two Expeditionary Strike
Groups in the Gulf, now Boxer is gone, though Iwo Jima remains), but concede that the 5th fleets recent request for forces does seem to indicate that
there will be a shuffling of assets, and this may be designed to fire a shot across Iran's bow. If come March the Eisenhower is still in the gulf
along with Stennis, Iwo Jima and any others though, it will be likely that we're going.
This raises a number of questions, not the least of which is whether or not the last alarm of impending strikes was intentional, designed to reduce
concerns over the current possibility. It's thin for now, but depending on whether or not Eisenhower's tour is extended, it could thicken up.
Will it only be a brief overlap designed to remind the Iranians that we're not stretched so thin that we can't retask a few forces when we really
need to be on their doorstep, or will the buildup grow and become a real attack, just in time for Spring. (If that's the case, I'm guessing it means
that something bad will have to happen to Tim Johnson
But then, there's the hidden possibility. Is there any other reason that we might want the Stennis to hurry it's butt out of port and get into the
5th fleet a couple months before it absolutely has to be there?
Well, there is that pesky little war in Somalia
that I've been telling you would
happen all year. It could all be a cover to put a carrier in position to lay a couple of airstrikes down on targets of opportunity and blame it on
Ethiopia. Afterall, the guys who bombed the embassy in Kenya are supposed to be with the UIC force that has retreated from Mogadishu.