In anticipation of sequester cuts, Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta has ordered a reduction from two carrier groups to one in the Persian Gulf.
Panetta, a staunch critic of sequester cuts from the start, argues that the cuts are going to "hollow out" the military. But he is complying with them, as he must, and this begins with cutting the Naval presence in Middle East.
Reports indicate that the Navy asked Panetta to halt scheduled deployments of carrier groups and "a guided missile cruiser" because of pending "budget uncertainties."
The reduction in number of carrier fleets comes on top of news that the Navy plans to ground the Blue Angels for the latter half of 2013, once sequester has kicked in.