The United States has decided to expand the deployment of the George HW Bush carrier strike group to provide policymakers with options after deadly attacks in Syria by Iranian-backed forces last week, US military officials said on Friday, reports Reuters.
The decision means that Bush’s strike group and its more than 5,000 US forces, now in the European Command’s area of operations, will likely not return to the US home port on schedule.
The carrier group’s extension was confirmed by US Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesman Colonel Joe Buccino, which was first reported by Reuters.
“The expansion of the George HW Bush Carrier Strike Group, which includes the USS Leyte Gulf, the USS Delbert D. Black and the USNS Arctic, allows options to strengthen CENTCOM’s ability to respond to a range of contingencies in the Middle East. ,” Buccino said in a statement.
Buccino also noted that a squadron of A-10 attack aircraft was being rapidly deployed in the region.
One US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Bush’s strike group was expected to remain in the European Command’s area of responsibility.
News of the deployment came a day after the Pentagon doubled its tally of the number of American troops wounded in last week’s attacks in Syria to 12, following the diagnosis of six US military personnel with traumatic brain injuries.
The attacks also killed an American contractor and injured another.
President Joe Biden warned Iran last week that the United States would act strongly to protect Americans. The Pentagon estimated that eight militants were killed during US airstrikes against two Iranian-linked facilities in Syria during the tit-for-tat exchanges that prompted the first attack on March 23 on a US base near the city of Hasaka in the Syria.
The White House said on Monday that the incidents would not prompt a US withdrawal from a nearly eight-year-old US deployment to Syria, where American troops and local Kurdish-led partners are fighting the remnants of the Islamic State.
Still, the United States has formally prioritized Russia, Ukraine and the Asia-Pacific over the Middle East in its national security policies, after two decades of US intervention in the region during its global war on terror. .
This resulted in an overall reduction in US military personnel and assets in the Middle East.
READ: Six US troops in Syria have traumatic brain injuries – the Pentagon