But here’s the thing: Just like France’s outdated tactics were obsoleted by German Blitzkrieg, carrier strike groups, a technology and formation from the mid-20th century, are probably obsolete. As an excellent article by David W. Wise convincingly argues, aircraft carriers are probably extremely vulnerable to a number of new technologies, from asymmetric warfare to super-quiet submarines to advanced ballistic missiles. In military exercises, U.S. aircraft carriers keep getting sunk.

Up until very recently, America’s overwhelming carrier advantage meant that any attempt, say, by China to invade Taiwan, looked like folly. Now it practically looks like an invitation: With its anti-ship ballistic missiles, China could sink half the U.S. Navy before it even got within range of the island.

It increasingly looks like the Navy of the future will mostly consist of drone- and missile-launching submarines (manned and unmanned), which hold a number of decisive advantages over carriers. But these are areas in which the Navy, despite some interesting experiments, is under-investing — partly because its budget is being eaten up by a frenzy to build and maintain ever-more expensive supercarriers.