From Missouri to Natanz: US Global Strike Capability

Noam Ophir

Recent years have seen a substantial change in US power projection capability. For decades this capability was based on the use of aircraft carriers; now the US possesses the unique capability of executing an extensive, intercontinental attack without the need to operate from foreign territory. An American attack on Iran, if executed, could possibly be the first significant demonstration of this capability. The next stage will be the ability to carry out such an operation within a shorter response time than is currently possible.  

 Aircraft carriers and their escort ships have been a dominant component in almost every American military action since the end of the Second World War. To many observers, the aircraft carrier, perhaps more than anything else, has been a symbol of US military might. Even today, when voices are heard speculating over a possible US military action against Iran, the natural tendency is to check how many aircraft carriers are situated in the Persian Gulf. Modifications in the deployment and numbers of aircraft carriers are perceived as essential data with regard to US preparedness for launching a military action.

            However in recent years the US has been involved in an ongoing process that will change the current state of affairs. In fact, already today aircraft carrier deployment is not necessarily a key indicator of US operational preparedness. Instead, a possible American military move against Iran is likely to rely on forces stationed in the US itself and on weapons whose locations would be disclosed only after opening fire. These capabilities have been employed in the past, but they are gradually playing an increasingly central role in US combat plans. At this stage advanced US power projection capability is still being developed; however, if all goes according to plan, within a decade – and perhaps sooner – the US is expected to undergo a revolutionary change on this level.

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