Every once in a while I check the status of the Navy to see where the aircraft carriers are sitting. We have 10 of those ships with two under construction but only 5 or 6 seem to be able to operate at any one time. I believe right now we only have five deployed. I read an article that said the Trump has sent two more aircraft carriers to float around off of North Korea. Having had his initial bluff on Kim Jung-un (KJ-un) fall flat he is upping the ante.
I’ve written that there is no military solution to the North Korean situation because of the devastation it can wreak on South Korea. That is why as far back as Nixon’s time every American president treads cautiously in dealing with it. We now have the Trump whose ignorance of history tells him he can bluff the North Koreans into doing – what? We don’t know what is in his mind. Does he want to bring them to the negotiation table? What is it that he will require of them? Is he seeking to have them stop their missile and nuke programs? Is that realistic to think he can make them do it short of a war?
Trump’s easy to read. He is a bluffer. He always had his lawyers bluffing for him. Since he had lots of money he could hire the lawyers who could squash anyone who went against him. He often said he never would settle a case preferring to overwhelm anyone who tried to sue him by wearing them down with motions and mountains of paperwork and delay. Any trial lawyer knows how that game is played; you can always wear out the other side and bring them to their knees. Yes, he will settle in the end but only on his terms. If he owed a million dollars he will offer 25 hundred and the litigant on the other side flees in panic. If too many litigants come at him, he goes into bankruptcy. Perfectly legal but it leaves a lot of small businesses holding worthless IOUs and empty promises.
The article noted that Trump told a reporter during the Easter Egg party at the White House that KJ-un “got to behave. “ The carriers identified as being sent to the potential war zone are the Ronald Reagan (CVN – 76) and Nimitz (CVN 68) which are to join the Carl Vinson (CVN-70) which will go there after training with the Australian navy.
The Reagan is the U.S. Navy’s only forward deployed aircraft carrier and is stationed in Yokosuka, Japan. According to the Navy it has not been yet deployed. Its movement toward Korea which is right around the corner would not be unexpected. It is surprising it was not sent there first but then again it takes time to deploy a carrier.
The Vinson out of San Diego will be moved up to Korea from the Philippines by the end of April. The Nimitz out of Kitsap, Washington was there at its Bremerton base less than two weeks ago undergoing training in preparation for its upcoming deployment. The Navy lists it as being in the Pacific but it most likely east of Hawaii.
Two other carriers are now deployed. The USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) also out of San Diego. The Marine Fighter Attack Squadron VMFA-312 was planning to do landing exercises on the Roosevelt this month. Best guess the Roosevelt which is listed as being in the Pacific is deployed but it is off the coast of California conducting those exercises. The other carrier deployed is the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) which left Norfolk, Virgina in January. It is in the Persian Gulf renamed by the Navy the “Arabian Gulf” because we are mad at Iran. It took the place of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) which returned to Norfolk in December.
Right now deployed at sea are the Nimitz, Vinson, Roosevelt and Bush. Along with the Eisenhower, the Nimitz, Vinson and Roosevelt are our oldest carriers. The Bush is the newest active one. The Reagan if news reports are correct is about to deploy. The Eisenhower just came back into port so it won’t be ready for a while.
That leaves in order of going on active duty the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) completing its 4 billion dollar overhaul at Newport News, Virginia; the USS George Washington (CVN 73) scheduled to start being overhauled there this fall; the USS John Stennis (CVN 74) out of Kitsap, Washington, scheduled to do exercises off Alaska in May despite protest of local residents worried about the spring migration of birds and the commercial salmon season; and the USS Harry Truman (CVN 75) out of Norfolk where it is undergoing repairs and refit. In sum, only the Stennis seems to be in shape to join the three off of Korea if we need more; unless we want to pull the Bush from the Gulf where it is fighting ISIS.
So what is in store. My guess is that Trump will want to pull off one of those limited strikes like in Syria which caused little damage or in Afghanistan in the mountain area with the big bomb strike against ISIS. He looked good in these since he tweeted that his approval rating has gone up since doing them. They were easy. No one could do anything in response to them sort of like the schoolyard bully picking on those who cannot fight back.
He will be looking for a one-off attack on KJ-un if the three carriers do not dissuade him from firing more missiles. He will do that hoping KJ-un has been bluffing and does not want to war with us. If he is wrong, KJ-un’s response will most likely be an attack on a carrier with its five to six thousand sailors. He has anti-ship missiles and developing more sophisticated ones. He will hold off on attacking South Korea at this time since that is his ace in the hole.
Business bluffing with lawyers has little downside; all can be eventually settled with money. Bluffing with military forces has tremendous downsides; many lives can be lost playing around with this fire. Just pray Trump recognizes the difference.