We previously reported on the decision to move the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) Carrier Strike Group (CSG) off the coast of Gaza despite the Ford CSG being near the end of its normally 6-month deployment to the European Command Area of Responsibility (AOR), which encompasses the Mediterranean Sea, among other areas: U.S. Navy Brings Massive Military Power to the Gaza Area of Operations
U.S. SecDef approved a deployment extension for the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group.
The CSG was nearing the end of its six-month deployment to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility. pic.twitter.com/bqQZHgo49C
— Ian Ellis (@ianellisjones) October 17, 2023
We next updated our U.S. military force picture to report that the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) CSG was deployed from Norfolk, Virginia on October 14 and ordered to the coast of Gaza: U.S. Military Power Expands in Gaza Area of Operations – An Update
From Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III’s October 14 “statement“:
I have directed the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (CSG) to begin moving to the Eastern Mediterranean. As part of our effort to deter hostile actions against Israel or any efforts toward widening this war following Hamas’s attack on Israel, the Strike Group includes the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), guided-missile destroyers USS Gravely (DDG 107) and USS Mason (DDG 87), and Carrier Air Wing 3, with nine aircraft squadrons, and embarked headquarters staffs.
The Eisenhower CSG will join the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, which arrived earlier this week. The Ford CSG includes the USS Normandy, USS Thomas Hudner, USS Ramage, USS Carney, and USS Roosevelt. Earlier in the week, the U.S. Air Force announced deployment to the region of squadrons of F-15, F-16 and A-10 fighter aircraft.
The USS Bataan (LHD-5) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with over 2,000 U..S. Marines, has also been re-directed from the Persian Gulf to the coast of Gaza:
USS Bataan, at 40,000 tons and over 800 feet in length, is a smaller version of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. With conventional propulsion, she has a powerful airwing that typically includes six F-35 strike fighters (with vertical takeoff capability), alongside a dozen of the assault support tiltrotor MV-22 Ospreys to get Marines rapidly ashore in a crisis.
The ship also has very capable missile defense systems, surveillance radars and a crew of over 1,200 sailors. There is a complete medical and surgical operating facility, along with space to embark nearly 2,000 Marines.
The Bataan ARG also includes the USS Carter Hall and USS Mesa Verde, two other amphibious assault ships with embarked marines (approximately 2,500 U.S. Marines total in the Bataan ARG):
🚨JUST IN: U.S. Defense Officials Confirm 2,500 Marines Are En Route to Israel-Gaza-Lebanon Region
Currently En Route:
– Approx 2,500 Marines with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit
– USS Bataan
– USS Carter Hall
– USS Mesa Verde
Source: USNI News pic.twitter.com/pFK5XX31mE
— Mario Nawfal (@MarioNawfal) October 16, 2023
If you’re keeping track, that is two nuclear power aircraft carriers with over 100 tactical aircraft and nine accompanying warships, each of which likely has Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles in hot standby in missile launchers, and three amphibious assault ships with more tactical aircraft and 2,500 U.S. Marines aboard.
Now we have learned that SECDEF has seriously augmented U.S. missile defense forces in theater. From Fox News: Defense secretary issues plan to ‘bolster regional deterrence efforts’, move warships, increase forces
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced the U.S. Department of Defense’s plan on Saturday evening to further “bolster regional deterrence efforts” in the Middle East amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, reiterating the department’s defense of Israel.
In a press release, the secretary said that the plan comes following “detailed discussions” with President Joe Biden….
Austin said that the DOD has deployed their anti-ballistic missile defense system, called the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery, as well as additional Patriot battalions “throughout the region.”
Without sharing an exact number, Austin said that he has an “additional number of forces on prepare to deploy,” to “increase their readiness and ability to quickly respond as required.”
“I will continue to assess our force posture requirements in the region and consider deploying additional capabilities as necessary,” the Defense Secretary concluded.
President Biden has aggressively affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself in the wake of Hamas’ surprise attack.
U.S. Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin announced tonight that due to the recent Attacks by Pro-Iranian Militias across the Middle East and the Escalation we have Observed in Israel, the U.S. Army will be Deploying a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Battery as well as… pic.twitter.com/d86YnrF2uQ
— OSINTdefender (@sentdefender) October 22, 2023
This comes after several attacks on U.S. facilities around the Middle East:
Over the last week, there have been a growing number of security incidents involving drone and rocket attacks on U.S. bases in Syria and Iraq that appear to have been carried out by Iranian-backed groups opposed to the U.S. support of Israel in its war against Hamas.
A U.S. citizen working as a contractor at Al Asad airbase in western Iraq died from a cardiac episode during an attack on the base last Wednesday.
In the most visible attack on Thursday, the destroyer USS Carney intercepted four missiles and 15 drones fired from Yemen, by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia that the Pentagon said may have been headed towards targets in Israel.
At the time, the destroyer was located in the central Red Sea and used SM-2 air defense missiles and other capabilities to bring down the Houthi missiles and drones.
Iran, for its part, has claimed that its newly developed “Fattah” missile is so advanced that it can evade U.S. missile defenses: Iran unveils first domestically-made hypersonic ballistic missile, claims it can evade US defenses: report
Iran…unveiled what officials are describing as its first domestically-made hypersonic ballistic missile, one it claims can “bypass the most advanced anti-ballistic missile systems of the United States” and “Israel’s Iron Dome.”
The Fattah missile, which was showcased at a ceremony attended by Iranian President Ebrahim Rahisi and commanders of the country’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, has a top speed of around Mach 14 – more than 10,000 mph — according to Reuters, citing Iranian state media.
“The precision-guided Fattah hypersonic missile has a range of [870 miles] and it is capable of penetrating all defense shields,” Amirali Hajizadeh, the head of the Guards’ aerospace force, was quoted by Reuters as saying to state media.
“It can bypass the most advanced anti-ballistic missile systems of the United States and the Zionist regime, including Israel’s Iron Dome,” Iranian state TV reportedly said, adding that the Fattah “is a big generational leap in the field of missiles”.
And Vladimir Putin, for his part, claims that Russian missiles capable of launch from MiG-31 aircraft on patrol in the Black Sea can hit U.S. warships in the Mediterranean near Gaza:
JUST IN: Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered fighter jets with hypersonic missiles to patrol the Black Sea in response to the chaos in the Middle East.
Putin reportedly ordered MiG-31 aircraft armed with Kinzhal missiles.
The Kinzhal missiles have a range of "more than… pic.twitter.com/1HNgdCCeZt
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) October 18, 2023
Things continue to ramp up in the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.
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