For the first time since 2007, the US Navy has no aircraft carrier in the Gulf, while Russia continues its military operations in Syria.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier was pulled out of the Gulf, allegedly to undergo maintenance, US Military officials said on Thursday. The USS Theodore Roosevelt is home to about 5,000 service members and 65 combat planes.
The carrier’s retraction is also a temporary measure and is the result of mandatory budget cuts. The USS Theodore Roosevelt has had a pivotal role for the US-led air strikes battling ISIS in both Iraq and Syria since August 2014.
The USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier, which is based out of Norfolk, Virginia, is expected to take over the USS Theodore Roosevelt's place in the region, the Navy Times first reported in June.
The US often had two carriers in the Gulf, instead of just one during the height of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, so that US warplanes can roam in combat zones.
The US absence in the Gulf, coincides of Russian upping the frequency of its military operations in Syria.
Russia’s presence in Syria started in September 30, initially to combat the growing militancy of ISIS, however, majority of the Russian air strikes have targeted the Syrian opposition rather than ISIS, ultimately proving the Russian intention in Syria, which is to boost the withering authority of Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad.
Russia and Iran have been backing the Syrian regime since the beginning of the four-year war which claimed more than 250,000 Syrians, whilst, half of the country’s population are displaced internally or in the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and in Europe.
Peter Daly, a retired navy vice-admiral and CEO of the US Naval Institute, commented in media reports on the incident, "the most important thing you need a carrier for is what you don't know is going to happen next,".
"The biggest value to those carriers is that they are huge, and you have the capability to go from one stop to another, and we don't need a permission slip from another nation when we want to fly planes," he added.
Another navy official, Admiral John Richardson, told Washington lawmakers in last July that if the aircraft carriers were retracted from the region, it would be counterproductive for the US operations overseas particularly in the Middle East.
"Without that carrier, there will be a detriment to our capability there," Admiral John Richardson said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in July.