There is no greater symbol of American power and our ability to impose our will on other nations than the aircraft carrier. It has been this way since World War II when the carrier replaced the battleship as the dominant force in naval warfare. In a stroke of good fortune, or divine intervention, carrier dominance rose out of the ashes of America’s wrecked battleship fleet at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. America was forced out of necessity to emphasize carrier borne operations in the fight against Japan. Fortunately for us the carrier had already become the supreme power of the seas it was just prior to Pearl Harbor no one yet realized it. Since that time America has used the carrier and its ability to provide a mobile, deep strike capability to police the globe, but will that still be the case in the future? Robert Haddick points out in an article written for www.foreignpolicy.com that the cost of buying these ever more expensive ships is becoming hard to maintain for the US Navy. The article entitled Does the U.S. really need more $15 billion boats? acknowledges the fact that US commanders still rely heavily on carriers to signal US resolve to potential adversaries, but he calls for the other services to give commanders more options than just parking $15 billion boats off the coast of threat countries. The author pushes for the air force to more quickly develop a long-range bomber. He asks if the army couldn’t develop longer range missiles, the technology is there but up to this point the army hasn’t pursued it because carriers always seemed to make more sense. Unfortunately that last statement may no longer be the case. It’s not just the cost of a modern carrier, they have also become more vulnerable. Case in point, China’s new “carrier killer missile” could alter the balance of power in the Pacific if it works as advertised. This is because unlike previous Chinese anti-ship missiles this one can actually hit a moving target from extreme distances. Perhaps turning Americas vaunted carriers into large floating coffins. So as the author points out the cost factor, and others point out the vulnerability factor, it’s time America began looking for alternatives to the carrier before it is too late.