Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Marnell Maglasang directs an F/A-18E Super Hornet on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in the Arabian Sea, Nov. 27, 2020. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cheyenne Geletka/U.S. Navy via AP)
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Pentagon has decided to send home the only Navy aircraft carrier operating in the Middle East, a move that will reduce American firepower in the region amid heightened tensions with Iran.
The decision, announced Thursday by the acting secretary of defense, Christopher Miller, came one day after Air Force B-52 bombers flew nonstop from the United States to the Persian Gulf in a show of force that military officials said was intended to caution Iran against carrying out attacks against U.S. forces or interests.
Sending the aircraft carrier, the USS Nimitz, home to the U.S. West Coast would seem at odds with the idea that a show of force is needed to deter Iran. This might reflect a split within the defense establishment on whether Iran poses a heightened threat to strike in the waning days of the Trump administration.