US sending second carrier strike group, fighter jets to Israel

As Israel gets ready to expand its operations in Gaza, the Pentagon has sent fighter jets from the Air Force and ordered a second carrier strike group to the eastern Mediterranean Sea, according to a statement from US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Saturday.

The presence of two of the Navy’s most potent ships is intended to send a message of deterrence to Iran and Iranian proxies in the region, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon. The US warships are not intended to take part in Israel’s operations or the fighting in Gaza.

These actions are a part of our efforts to thwart hostile actions against Israel or any attempts to escalate the conflict in response to Hamas’s attack on Israel, Austin said in the statement.

Last week, the USS Gerald R. Ford-commanded first carrier strike group reached the Israeli coast. As of right now, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower strike group is on its way to the eastern Mediterranean after departing from Norfolk, Virginia, on Friday. Initially, the aircraft carrier was scheduled to head for the US European Command’s maritime domain.

One US defense official told CNN that it is currently unknown how long the Ford will remain in the area after the Eisenhower carrier strike group arrives. A guided-missile cruiser and two guided-missile destroyers will accompany the Eisenhower, the carrier strike group’s flagship, according to a statement from Austin. The F/A-18 fighter jets are among the more than 60 aircraft that the Eisenhower can transport. The Ford is capable of deploying over 75 aircraft.

The carrier strike group’s instructions were initially reported by ABC News.

The US military wasn’t there to support Israel

The carrier and its supporting force are not there to conduct combat operations on behalf of Israel, the Biden administration has made clear. John Kirby, the National Security Council’s strategic communications coordinator, stated on Thursday that there are no plans or intentions to send American troops into Israel. Kirby emphasized that the purpose of the increased military presence in the area is to prevent others from joining the conflict if they think Israel is showing signs of weakness.

A number of US officials tell CNN that the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit is also preparing in case it is directed to move closer to Israel to support the US force posture there. This rapid reaction force is also capable of conducting special operations.

More than 2,000 Marines and sailors make up the unit, which is affixed to the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan and is equipped to support a significant evacuation. Operationally crucial tasks for a Marine Expeditionary Unit include evacuations and humanitarian aid. The officials said the unit has not yet received such an order.

The area received more US warplanes

A-10 ground-attack jets and F-15E fighter jets have been sent to the area, according to a Saturday announcement from US Air Forces Central.

The movement of the aircraft from the 354th and 494th Expeditionary Fighter Squadrons, respectively, bolsters the U. S. According to an Air Force statement, this will improve air operations across the Middle East. The number of involved warplanes was not specified.

The A-10s will join another squadron of aircraft already stationed in the area, according to a US Central Command social media post. F-16 fighters have reportedly also been sent to the area, according to US Defense Secretary Austin’s statement.

We are bolstering our alliances and boosting security in the area by integrating with joint and coalition forces and posing advanced fighters, Lt. Gen. In a statement, Commander of the 9th Air Force Alexus Grynkewich said.

As Israel continues its conflict with the terrorist organization Hamas, defense officials have emphasized numerous times recently that the Pentagon will be able to quickly send in more forces and resources to the area as needed.