The Pentagon has opted to extend the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group in the Mediterranean to offer more military “options.” The decision follows recent attacks on US bases in Syria, which killed one military contractor and left multiple soldiers with brain injuries.
US Central Command (CENTCOM), which oversees military operations in the Middle East, announced the extended mission on Friday, saying the George HW Bush carrier strike group would not return to the US on schedule.
“The extension of the George HW Bush Carrier Strike Group, inclusive of the USS Leyte Gulf, the USS Delbert D. Black, and the USNS Arctic, allows options to potentially bolster the capabilities of CENTCOM to respond to a range of contingencies in the Middle East,” CENTCOM spokesman Colonel Joe Buccino said in a statement.
He added that a squadron of A-10 attack aircraft would also be sent to the Middle East for an “expedited deployment,” but did not specify any particular country.
The US Navy reported a port visit by the strike group to Souda Bay, Crete on March 10. The stop came just days after the Neptune Strike “vigilance” drill concluded in the Mediterranean, which involved 31 ships, 135 aircraft and more than 8,000 sailors and marines from 21 countries, including the aircraft carrier and its support vessels.