U.S. increases military presence in Middle East amid Israel-Hamas war
The U.S. has increased its military presence in the Middle East since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas. The deployment of Defense Department assets to the region is aimed at deterring the conflict from widening into a larger regional war, U.S. officials say.
Here’s a look at some of the known groups and equipment that have been sent to the area.
Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group
The aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower arrived in the Red Sea south of Israel over the weekend. The strike group also includes a guided missile cruiser, two missile destroyers and an entire air wing comprised of helicopters, fighter jets and 5,000 sailors. The strike group is headed toward the Persian Gulf — a clear message directed at Iran — but will most likely remain outside the gulf.
The Pentagon revealed Sunday that an Ohio-class submarine — a nuclear-powered vessel — crossed through the Suez Canal. Ohio-class subs can carry 154 tomahawk cruise missiles. Submarines, sometimes called the “silent service,” operate mostly in secret and the release of this information from the Defense Department was deliberate.
Ford Carrier Strike Group
The Ford Carrier Strike Group is currently in the Mediterranean Sea after being sent to the region in late October. The group includes the USS Ford and three ballistic missile defense ships.
Other U.S. warships in the Middle East
The USS Mount Whitney command ship has also been sent to the eastern Mediterranean Sea. In the Red Sea, joining the Eisenhower Strike Group, are four warships: Bataan, Carter Hall, Hudner and Carney. The USS Carney, a Navy destroyer, recently shot down cruise missiles and drones launched from Yemen that may have been headed toward Israel.
U.S. troops in the region
The firepower from these warships is a deterrent, but it is also to help protect the 45,000 U.S. service members and contractors that are stationed in the Middle East. Most are in Kuwait, but thousands are in Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The Pentagon has also deployed 1,200 troops to the Middle East, though not to Israel, since the war began. On Oct. 26, the Defense Department announced it was sending 900 troops, primarily for air defense, to the region. Another 300 troops, mostly ordnance disposal, communications and other support, were announced Oct. 31.
— Norah O’Donnell and Eleanor Watson contributed reporting.
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