As Russian warships rain down cruise missiles as part of its military strike in Syria, there’s now a glaring absence in the region: For the first time since 2007, the U.S. Navy has no aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.
Military officials said Thursday that they’ve pulled the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which is home to about 5,000 service members and 65 combat planes, so that it can undergo maintenance. The ship officially exited the gulf around 11 p.m. ET. The temporary measure is also the result of mandatory budget cuts.
The lack of a U.S. presence in the gulf comes as Russia is escalating its actions in the region and began pounding targets in Syria last week with airstrikes. Russian officials say they’re trying to obliterate ISIS, although the U.S. and its allies say they’re instead hitting rebel fighters who oppose Syrian President Bashar Assad, a Russian ally. […]