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New Year Saw Rare Aircraft Carrier Deployment Gap

flattop

By Debbie Gregory.

As the first month of 2017 draws to an end, we learned a very interesting fact.

For the first week of this year, for the first time since World War II, no U.S. aircraft carriers were deployed, anywhere, a Navy spokesman confirmed.

Had the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, which had been in the Persian Gulf, delayed its return to its homeport of Norfolk, VA by a few days, this would not have been the case.

The unusual gap in carrier presence is due in part to longer-than-expected maintenance for the USS George H.W. Bush, which was supposed to take eight months, but ended up taking 13 months. The Navy blamed the delay on increased wear and tear that resulted from an extended deployment. If it had left when it was supposed to, instead of on January 21st, it would have relieved the Eisenhower in the Gulf.

The George H.W. Bush is the tenth and final Nimitz-class supercarrier of the United States Navy, named for the 41st President of the United States. Construction began in 2003at the Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard’s Dry Dock 12, the largest in the western hemisphere, and was completed in 2009 at a cost of $6.2 billion.

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said the absence of a carrier in the Gulf or the Pacific does not mean the U.S. is vulnerable.

The USS Carl Vinson is on routine deployment to the Western Pacific after having received some $300 million worth of improvements.

The USS Makin Island, an amphibious assault ship, is on deployment in the Middle East. The ship is smaller than an aircraft carrier and deploys with Marines, landing craft and helicopters.

“We have had a significant presence in both those areas and will continue to have a significant presence even though we may not at any one particular time have an aircraft carrier there,” Cook said.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Pentagon Confident in Defense Against N. Korea

missile

By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. Defense Department, reacting to North Korea’s statement that it plans to test an intercontinental ballistic missile, said it was confident in its ability to protect U.S. allies and the U.S. homeland from threats from Pyongyang.

Pyongyang is the capital and largest city of North Korea.”We remain confident in our ballistic missile defense and in our defense of our allies and our defense of the homeland,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said at a news briefing.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, in a New Year’s speech Sunday, said the country was “in the final stages of test-launching the intercontinental ballistic missile.”

“We have a ballistic missile defense … umbrella that we’re confident in for the region and to protect the United States homeland,” Cook said.

In 2016, North Korea conducted two nuclear tests and numerous missile launches last year alone in its quest to develop a nuclear weapons system capable of hitting the US mainland.

“We would once again call on the North Koreans to refrain from provocative actions,” Cook said.

President Donald Trump dismissed Pyongyang’s missile claims, tweeting, “”North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the US. It won’t happen!”

North Korea’s drive to develop nuclear ballistic missiles capable of striking the United States and its allies has prompted Washington to reinforce its antimissile defenses in the region.

The defense strategy is based notably on the AEGIS system, powerful TPY-2 radars and the antiballistic missile system THAAD that Washington is relocating to South Korea, a move that has provoked China, North Korea’s main ally.

The Pentagon spokesman declined to comment to reporters on whether the US had prepared scenarios on deterrent military actions to stop North Korea from developing nuclear missiles.

“We’re constantly adjusting to the threat North Korea poses,” Cook said.

Pyongyang “has shown disregard to the international community for its international obligations,” he said. “And we’re watching this very, very carefully.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

One U.S. Service Member Killed, Two Wounded in Afghanistan

An HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter taxis before a mission Oct. 1, 2010, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Airmen of the 26th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron conduct combat search and rescue missions as well as transporting injured military members and civilians for medical treatment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Chad Chisholm)

By Debbie Gregory.

On Tuesday, January 5th, one U.S. service member was killed and two others were wounded in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province.

Military spokesman U.S. Army Col. Mike Lawhorn said that “all casualties have been evacuated” following Tuesday’s fighting. The evacuation was delayed when one helicopter took fire and was unable to land, and another was unable to take off.

The fighting was part of intensified efforts by the U.S. and its Afghan partners to push back against Taliban gains, and took place near the city of Marja.

The U.S. troops came under fire while accompanying Afghan special operations forces, according to Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook.

Cook said two U.S. helicopters were dispatched to the scene to provide medical evacuation for the U.S. casualties but could not complete the mission. One was waved off after taking fire and returned safely to its base. The other, an Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk, landed safely but was unable to take off because its rotor struck a wall.

Cook said that U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has been updated by U.S. commanders in Kabul on the situation via video-conference.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama had been briefed on the incident.

For more than six months, Helmand has been the scene of battles between insurgents and security forces that have complained of being abandoned by the U.S.-backed Afghan government. In December, the deputy governor of the volatile southern province said that Helmand could fall to the Taliban after months of heavy fighting.

“We are deeply saddened by this loss,” said Brig. Gen. Wilson A. Shoffner, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Shoffner added, “Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the families and friends of those involved.”

We at Military Connection add our condolences to the family and friends of the lost service member, and hope for a full and swift recovery for the two injured service members.