Saturday, May 21, 2005

Second Pacific Carrier to Guam?

Inside the Ring says here that there's a debate on where to "forward deploy" a second aircraft carrier - to Guam or to Hawaii...
Pentagon force structure planners are still working on where to 'forward deploy' a second aircraft carrier battle group in the Pacific.

As part of the global military force posture review, the Pentagon has decided it needs a second carrier group closer to hot spots such as the Taiwan Strait and North Korea.

The United States has the USS Kitty Hawk carrier battle group based in Yokosuka, Japan, near Tokyo.

Defense officials say the choices for deploying the second carrier are Honolulu and the western Pacific island of Guam.

Pentagon officials say Hawaii is a choice because it already has a well-developed port and other infrastructure. It also is home to the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Command.

Guam, however, is more strategically located and would allow U.S. power to reach Asia more quickly, a key element of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's goal for military force restructuring.

Defense officials say unsettling conflict scenarios related to China's rapid military buildup - primarily Beijing's new warships, submarines and aircraft designed specifically to attack U.S. warships - are lending support to deploying the carrier at Guam, where up to eight U.S. attack submarines also are being deployed.

On the other hand, China's development and purchase of precision strike cruise and ballistic missiles have some strategists in the Pentagon saying that a second carrier should be stationed safely at Honolulu.
Safely in Hawaii? Gosh, remember something called Pearl Harbor?
And see this for more info on the China-US threat, and this for some more info on the LCS and China's expressed intent to take out a US carrier should it come to that...

Update: According to this site, the US Navy may be acquiring some "Sunburn" missiles for target practice...And this Newsmax piece on the subject. And this here and this. Hmmm.

Update2: After thinking it over, I say we need to go aggressive on the positioning of a second carrier and there's no better place than Guam. After all, Guam is US Territory, has a huge AFB at one end and a pretty good navy facility already in place. It doesn't take long to find deep water and it's a several days closer to potential trouble spots than Hawaii. It also has golf courses, good beaches, excellent snorkeling, diving, a University, cable tv, etc, etc. Watch out for the stone fish, men-of war, coral infections and the poisonous cone sea shells (when I lived there, we always wore wading shoes in the water)...

Guam, its military installations and its place in the Pacific (map from U. of Texas Library):

Apra Harbor from the air:

(Apra Harbor photo from here)

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