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Three carrier strike groups engage in nationwide virtual exercise

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What I find intriguing about this exercise is that it is one in which US Naval forces do not have "assured access" to the theater of operations and the scenario is classified. When a major physical sea-land-air exercise was executed on the west coast of the US prior to the Iraqi invasion, the sea/land/geographical/climatic terrain bounded by the exercise could only be Iran or Iraq. In a simulated exercise, there is no such disclosure. Now where are seas to which we have no assured assess?

Seas without physical assured assess are often called marginal seas, i.e., a sea bordering a continent and separated from an ocean by any combination of land features like an island, archipelago, or peninsula; or waterways like a strait or channel. Such seas are often seen by the dominant littoral partner as a Mare Clausum (Closed Sea) or Mare Nostrum (Our Sea), e.g., Russia views the Sea of Okhotsk as such a closed sea and gets greatly exercised when the US projects naval assets into it. Likewise, the US gets grumpy should a major competitor project force into the Gulf of Mexico.

Next one asks, where are marginal or closed seas adjacent to an area of geopolitical interest to the US? China/North Korea have the South China Sea, East China Sea, Yellow Sea, and Sea of Japan. Russia has the Sea of Okhotsk, Black Sea, and Baltic Sea. I would not include marginal seas such as the Red Sea and Persian Gulf as they do not make good locations for carrier battle group maneuver and thus attacking aircraft to the littoral are launched externally. While locales such as the Arctic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea could be on the table, I find it unlikely.

If I were going to operate against Bin Laden and al Qaeda assets in Pakistan and Iran, I would be interested in the Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea (again assuming that I eliminate the Persian Gulf due to maneuver room), but at least in the latter case, we have operated there in recent years.

For the moment, I lean to the three China seas, especially when "the exercise involves trying to assist another country."

See also U.S. Fleet Forces Command

Gordon Housworth



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