Automatic budget cuts will prevent the Navy from returning a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf region in fiscal 2014, the service’s top officer said.
Admiral Jonathan Greenert, the chief of naval operations, said an estimated $14 billion that the service must absorb under the budget cuts known as sequestration will restrict the Navy to a single carrier in the Gulf and one in the western Pacific for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
To move a second carrier to the Gulf region, the Navy would have to make cuts in money that’s needed for training, he said today at a Pentagon news conference.
In anticipation of the budget cuts, the Navy announced in February that it would delay the deployment of the USS Harry S. Truman to the Persian Gulf to save money. The decision left one carrier in the volatile region instead of the two that had been maintained there for much of the previous year.
The Navy now has only one carrier strike group ready to deploy to either the Persian Gulf or the western Pacific if a surge of forces is required, Greenert said. A year ago, it had three carriers available, he said.
The decision to forgo a second carrier next year came as Greenert reported an increase in piracy in the Gulf of Oman over the last eight months. He said he’s seen no evidence that the reduced carrier presence has altered the activity of Iran’s navy.
Greenert also announced plans to expand pilot programs to combat sexual assaults, including increased the use of roving patrols and shore patrols. Programs that are already in place at Naval Station Great Lakes, in Illinois, and Naval Base San Diego, in California, will be extended to all Navy bases by Oct. 1, he said.
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