Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin reiterated strong U.S. support for Israel's right to defend itself, and said he's directing the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, the USS Normandy cruiser, and several destroyers to move to the Eastern Mediterranean near Israel.
“We have also taken steps to augment U.S. Air Force F-35, F-15, F-16, and A-10 fighter aircraft squadrons in the region,” Austin said in a statement. “In addition, the United States government will be rapidly providing the Israel Defense Forces with additional equipment and resources, including munitions. The first security assistance will begin moving today and arriving in the coming days."
The USS Gerald R. Ford stands as one of the world's largest aircraft carriers, the latest and most cutting-edge aircraft carrier in the United States, and it was already in the Mediterranean, engaged in naval drills with Italy. The ship, carrying about 5,000 sailors and warplanes, will be joined by cruisers and destroyers.
U.S. Central Command said Sunday that it had begun moving the strike group.
"USCENTCOM stands firmly with our Israeli and regional partners to address the risks of any party seeking to expand the conflict," said General Michael "Erik" Kurilla, Commander, U.S. Central Command.
The extensive deployment highlights the United States' concern about preventing the escalation of the conflict.
The announcement came shortly after President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, where Biden told Netanyahu that more support in the form of "additional assistance for the Israeli Defense Forces" was en route to Israel.
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