Naval Air: May 26, 2003


For over two decades, the U.S. Navy has deployed it's carrier groups (one carrier and its escorts) on six month sea cruises followed by six months or more in their home port for leave, training and maintenance best done at pier side. Actually, it wasn't as bad as that, as some carriers had home ports overseas, which gave the sailors more time ashore, while still keeping the carriers close to potential trouble spots. This system kept at least two carriers at sea and ready for anything at all times. But the Iraq war showed, as did the Afghanistan campaign, that the traditional system does not work during war time. Seven carriers were sent to fight in Iraq, and some of them were away from home for over ten months. The more you keep sailors at sea for over six months, the lower the re-enlistment rates. So the navy is going to adopt a "surge system" that keeps nearly all the carriers near their home ports most of the time. With this arrangement, half a dozen, or more, carriers can be quickly sent to some new hot spot. Because of maintenance, leave and training requirements for all the carrier groups returning from Iraq, the fleet won't be ready to surge again until the end of the year. So if anything bad is going to happen in Korea, it had better wait at least six months so the navy can get ready.


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