Aircraft carriers are surrounded by a mystique that often exceeds their actual roles in U.S. military doctrine, says Robert C. Rubel, dean of the Center for Naval Warfare Studies at the Naval War College in Rhode Island.
Indeed, while many lawmakers and defense experts deride those who suggest a reduced role for carriers, Rubel, a former F/A-18 pilot, points out that carriers already have receded from some jobs, while other tasks they once performed are obsolete.
Carriers once were the fleet’s eyes and a nuclear strike platform. Those roles are greatly diminished today. They also were seen as capital ships, designed mainly to defeat other ships at sea. That role has been downgraded with the rise of anti-ship missiles. ...