WASHINGTON — The United States, in what was seen as a gesture to Iran, has kept its aircraft carrier group out of the Gulf.
U.S. Navy records showed that the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier group was kept away from the Gulf for most of the last six months.
The aircraft carrier has been the only one assigned by the United States in the Gulf amid Washington’s rapproachment with Iran.
“A carrier is an effective symbol and instrument of national power,” [Ret.] Vice Adm. Peter Daly, chief executive officer of the United States Naval Institute, said. “That’s true in the Gulf and that’s true anywhere in the world.”
On Feb. 13, the U.S. newspaper The Hill quoted a naval official as saying that the Truman, which succeeded the USS Nimitz, was kept out of the Gulf as part of the policy of the administration of President Barack Obama. The official said the absence of the aircraft carrier was “intended to give space for negotiators to work on the nuclear deal.”
“Our goal out here is to do everything we can to prevent miscalculations, and not pressurize a situation that could easily be pressurized,” the official said.
In early 2013, the navy, citing budgetary considerations, withdrew one of two aircraft carrier groups from the Gulf. The Hill, using data posted by naval officers on Facebook, estimated that Truman spent 45 days in the Gulf from August 2013 to January 2014.
As late as December 2013, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel pledged to the Gulf Cooperation Council that Washington would not reduce its military presence. The navy said it plans to deploy 10 coastal patrol boats to the Fifth Fleet in 2014.
“There has been no diminished focus or effort with respect to the Arabian Gulf,” Defense Department spokesman John Kirby said.
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