If push came to shove, the Philippines will turn to its big brother and ally, the United States. Does anyone disagree?
Now if the Chinese actually attacked the municipality of Kalayaan, how might the United States respond to a call for assistance from the Philippine government?
Projection of Power
Well, they’ll most likely dispatch a fleet of warships towards Palawan. And none will be as effective as the Carrier Strike Group of the Seventh Fleet. Just ask President Aquino. Last month, he and his buddies were given a ride on the USS Carl Vinson.
A Carrier Strike Group
The U.S. Navy operates 11 aircraft carriers. Each carrier is the hub of a strike group. It delivers the offensive punch. It has many ways to deliver it. And it has many types of offensive punches.
Each carrier is accompanied by ships whose primary job is to protect it. There are three types: cruisers, destroyers, and submarines. Cruisers are the big brothers of destroyers. In addition to defense, cruisers pack an offensive punch in the form of cruise missiles. Destroyers are primarily defensive. Submarines are the silent partners. The U.S. Navy doesn’t talk about them much but submarines accompany strike groups. They’re both defensive and offensive. Some of them can launch cruise missiles, an offensive weapon. Others can launch nuclear missiles. Others can launch another type of offensive weapon. Humans: SEAL teams.
From the U.S. Navy’s carrier webpage:
Since World War II, the U.S. Navy’s carriers have been the national force of choice. In over 80% of the times when the World was faced with international violence, the United States has responded with one or more carrier task forces.
The carrier battle group, operating in international waters, does not need the permission of host countries for landing or overflight rights. Nor does it need to build or maintain bases in countries where our presence may cause political or other strains. Aircraft carriers are sovereign U.S. territory that steam anywhere in international waters — and most of the surface of the globe is water. This characteristic is not lost on our political decision-makers, who use Navy aircraft carriers as a powerful instrument of diplomacy, strengthening alliances or answering the fire bell of crisis. As former President Bill Clinton said during a visit to the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, “When word of crisis breaks out in Washington, it’s no accident the first question that comes to everyone’s lips is; where is the nearest carrier?”
The carrier battle group can not only operate independently but it presents a unique range of options to the President, Congress and Secretary of Defense. By using the oceans — more than 70% of the earth’s surface is ocean — both as a means of access and as a base, forward-deployed Navy and Marine forces are readily available to provide the United States with a rheostat of national response capabilities. These capabilities range from simply showing the flag — just a presence — to insertion of power ashore.
Shown below are the current locations of the Carrier Strike Groups (source: Weekly Intelligence Update of Stratfor).
The Philippines used to host the base of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet. This fleet, flag-shipped by the same USS Carl Vinson, is responsible for the largest area of responsibility.
The U.S. Navy carves areas out of the globe and assigns specific naval units responsibility for that area.
In the map above, note how the area of responsibility of the 7th Fleet extends from the central Pacific Ocean (at the International Date Line just west of Hawaii) to the western Indian Ocean (along the east coast of Africa). That’s nearly two oceans wide!
The 7th Fleet’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG-1) is currently composed of one aircraft carrier, its warplanes, two guided-missile cruisers, and five destroyers. It most likely includes submarines but that’s not public information.
- USS Carl Vinson (Aircraft Carrier)
- Carrier Air Wing Seventeen (the warplanes)
- USS Bunker Hill (Guided Missile Cruiser)
- USS Lake Champlain (Guided Missile Cruiser)
- USS Stockdale (Destroyer)
- USS Gridley (Destroyer)
- USS Higgins (Destroyer)
- USS Rentz (Destroyer)
- USS McClusky (Destroyer)
From Stratfor Global Intelligence
The Naval Update Map shows the current locations of U.S. Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs) and Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs), the keys to U.S. dominance of the world’s oceans.
A CSG is centered on an aircraft carrier, which projects U.S. naval and air power and supports a carrier air wing (CVW). The CSG includes significant offensive strike capability.
An ARG is centered on three amphibious warfare ships, with a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) embarked. An MEU is built around a heavily reinforced and mobile battalion of Marines.
Carrier Strike Groups (CSG)
- The USS Enterprise CSG with CVW 1 embarked is conducting maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).
- The USS Ronald Reagan CSG with CVW 14 embarked is under way in the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR conducting close air support missions as part of Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn.
- The USS George H.W. Bush CSG with CVW 8 embarked is under way in the Mediterranean Sea as part of its deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th fleet AORs.
- The USS Carl Vinson CSG with CVW 17 returned to its home port after deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th fleet AORs.
- The USS George Washington CSG with CVW 5 embarked is under way conducting a summer patrol in the western Pacific Ocean.
Amphibious Ready Groups & Marine Expeditionary Units
- The USS Peleliu returned to its home port after conducting operations in the Pacific Ocean.
- The USS Boxer ARG with the 13th MEU embarked is under way in the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR conducting counterpiracy and maritime security operations.
- The USS Bataan ARG with the 22nd MEU embarked is under way in the Atlantic Ocean conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.
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