Gregg Easterbrook may have been right
when he suggested back in September that the Littoral Combat Ship would be used to defend new oil fields on the Western coast of Africa. Although the Pentagon hasn't confirmed specific plans, the BBC's Nick Childs reports that a US defense official has acknowledged the US Navy is planning to deploy an aircraft carrier off Nigeria and neighboring countries in the Gulf of Guinea (see his June 4 article, US navy 'plans W Africa exercise'
). Apparently there may be emerging terror threats in the "ungoverned areas" in the region. Childs only hints at the possible reason for the deployment: he mentions the oil, he mentions "Summer Pulse 04" (the Navy's current exercise
to prove it can respond quickly to world events), and he makes the rather enigmatic statement "A senior navy official said recently that a deployment to the Gulf would send a message."
What message is that?
That the region's oil will be easier to defend than oil in the Middle East? That an aircraft carrier is a bad tool to use in defending coastlines? With Congress still unsure of the program, this exercise could be just the push the Navy needs to get the LCS back on track.