US thinking about sending another aircraft carrier into waters near Israel: multiple reports
After sending its newest and most advanced aircraft carrier and the accompanying warships in its strike group to the eastern Mediterranean in a show of strength and support for Israel amid its war with Hamas, the US is considering sending a second aircraft carrier into the area, multiple reports say.
The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and its escorts could join the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group in waters near Israel in the coming weeks, US defense officials told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. ABC News also reported the discussions.
The Eisenhower is already set to head to the Middle East, reportedly via the Meditteranean, this week for a deployment that was planned months ago, but officials are now apparently debating whether the carrier should join the Ford or replace it. The Ford, which has been operating in the Mediterranean as part of its first full deployment, arrived in the eastern part of the waterway Tuesday.
"The arrival of these highly capable forces to the region is a strong signal of deterrence should any actor hostile to Israel consider trying to take advantage of this situation," said Gen. Michael "Erik" Kurilla, the commander of US Central Command.
The US Department of Defense declined to comment to Insider on whether there were conversations on tasking the Eisenhower with a mission outside its original deployment plans.
If the Eisenhower does join the Ford, it'll be the first time two carriers have been deployed in the area since March 2020, when rocket attacks aimed at Camp Taji, an Iraqi military installation north of Baghdad, killed two American soldiers and one British soldier.
The retasking of the Ford and reported considerations surrounding the Eisenhower speak to growing concerns about the crisis unfolding in Israel after surprise attacks by Hamas on Saturday were said to have left more than 800 civilians dead and injured significantly more. Israel responded by officially declaring war on Hamas and conducting devastating airstrikes on Hamas targets within the Gaza Strip. There are also expectations that an Israeli ground assault could be coming, which could wreak havoc on the densely populated area where many have already been killed or injured in the retaliatory strikes.
In response to the attacks by Hamas, the US pledged full support for Israel — overall the largest receiver of US military aid — and moved its newest and most advanced aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R. Ford, into waters near Israel. It was an unexpected change in the carrier's first full deployment, which the Ford spent mostly conducting exercises with partners and calls in friendly ports.
The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower is a nuclear-powered Nimitz-class aircraft carrier that was commissioned in 1977. Unlike the younger first-in-class Ford, the Eisenhower has seen action with deployments during the Gulf War in the 1990s and the later wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Were the US to move the Eisenhower into position near Israel, it would be a flex of US naval might in a hostile area, providing both logistics and humanitarian support while also unnerving enemy forces.
"Often the presence of an aircraft carrier has deterred potential adversaries from striking against US interests," the Navy says on its website. "Aircraft carriers support and operate aircraft that engage in attacks on airborne, afloat and ashore targets that threaten free use of the sea and engage in sustained power projection operations in support of US and coalition forces."
That's especially noteworthy in Israel right now, as fighting has broken out along the country's border with Lebanon, and Hezbollah — an Iran-backed independent group that, like Hamas, is designated as a terrorist organization by the US State Department — has been exchanging fire with Israeli forces. There has also been troubling rhetoric from Tehran.
Read the original article here