US Should Move Only Asia-Pacific Aircraft Carriers to Middle East | Voice of America
PENTAGON – U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is expected to approve the transfer of the only aircraft carrier based in the Asia-Pacific region to the Middle East on Thursday, two defense officials told VOA.
The rare movement of the USS Ronald Reagan, which is based in Yokosuka, Japan and typically deploys around the Pacific, would support the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, officials said.
The deployment of the USS Ronald Reagan will likely mean that the United States will not have an aircraft carrier based in the region, at least for part of the aircraft carrier’s deployment. But the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth strike group, which hosts hundreds of U.S. Marines and 10 of the Marine Corps’ F-35 fighter jets, is currently en route to the Pacific region.
According to USNI News, this will be the first time the Japan-based strike group and air wing have operated in the Middle East since 2003, when the USS Kitty Hawk, now an unarmed carrier, deployed to the Persian Gulf to provide a air support for the Iraq war.
The Pentagon has often said it is placing greater emphasis on the Indo-Pacific region in accordance with the 2018 National Defense Strategy, which has made near-par competition with China and Russia its top priority.
Need for air support
But President Joe Biden’s announcement in April that the United States would withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by September 11 increased the need for a continued carrier presence in the Middle East to provide additional air support.
The USS Ronald Reagan will relieve the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, which has been deployed for more than three months. Officials have not confirmed how long the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower will remain in the area after the arrival of its replacement.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby declined to confirm the deployment, saying the Pentagon does not talk about ship movements in advance.
“The only thing I would add is that… the secretary wants to make sure that General (Austin ‘Scott’) Miller has the right options at his disposal to ensure that the withdrawal from Afghanistan is done. safe, orderly and deliberate way, ”Kirby said.
Last week, the Navy announced that the USS Ronald Reagan had left Japan for a deployment “in the Indo-Pacific region”.
The Wall Street Journal was the first to report the carrier’s rare movement.