U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, which like its counterparts U.S. Army Europe and Africa and U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, in recent years has combined the commands of two continents, as U.S. Africa Command grew out of U.S. European Command. Reminiscent of the Berlin Conference of 1884 and the Scramble for Africa of the nineteenth century, American military forces in Europe which also are or can be when needed NATO assets, have resumed the Western world’s military mission throughout the African continent. U.S. Africa Command’s first war soon became NATO’s first African war in 2011 with the over seven-month air campaign against Libya.
U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa recently announced that warships assigned to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group have moved into the Black Sea. The U.S. has eleven of the world’s twelve nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (France has the other) and all of the world’s eleven supercarriers. The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Thomas Hudner and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey today moved into the Black Sea, whose littoral countries are three NATO members, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey, and two advanced NATO partners, Ukraine and Georgia, with Russia being the sixth and the target of permanent rotations of U.S. and NATO warships and warplanes. Earlier this year the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Donald Cook and USS Porter were also in the Black Sea on deployments that overlapped at one point.
In the event of a military conflict involving the Black Sea – say, in Crimea – the U.S. and its NATO allies, whose warships are also regularly rotated in the Black Sea, could launch devastating Tomahawk missile attacks as well as air strikes from Graf Ignatievo Air Base and Bezmer Air Base in Bulgaria, the Mihail Kogalniceanu airfield in Romania and thirteen air bases in Turkey.
Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and Ticonderoga-class cruisers are part of the U.S.’s Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System. The U.S. currently has 68 of the destroyers and 22 of the cruisers, 90 in total, with more planned to enter the Navy’s fleet as part of the global American interceptor missile program. They are designed to launch Standard Missile 3 Block IIAs to shoot down short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles as well as satellites in the exoatmosphere.The Arleigh Burke destroyers can also be equipped with 56 Tomahawk cruise missiles each. The Ticonderoga cruisers routinely carry (and have fired) Tomahawks as well.
The commander of USS Monterey was cited by the U.S. Air Force press release on the current deployment as saying, “Monterey’s presence in the Black Sea reinforces our continued commitment to operate with our NATO Allies.”
The American guided-missile warships are to participate in several events and visits, including the Sea Shield 2021 exercise started yesterday, which is organized by the Romanian navy and includes eighteen warships and ten aircraft from NATO members Bulgaria, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, the U.S. and Turkey.
Warplanes from the Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier now in the Mediterranean are available for deployment to the Black Sea, as earlier this year they entered that sea from the Charles de Gaulle (the world’s only non-American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier) while in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The above, to make the point, is at least the equivalent of, during the height of the Cold War, Soviet and fellow Warsaw Pact states permanently deploying guided-missile destroyers and cruisers, which could shoot down U.S. missiles fired in defense, in Lake Ontario with Soviet and Warsaw Pact aircraft carriers and their strike groups in the Atlantic Ocean near the entrance to the St. Lawrence Seaway.