U.S. decides to keep beefed-up presence in Middle East waters
USS John C. Stennis will deploy four months early to seas near Iran as tensions continue. (US Navy Photo)
July 16th, 2012
05:20 PM ET

U.S. decides to keep beefed-up presence in Middle East waters

By Barbara Starr
CNN Pentagon Correspondent

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A U.S. Navy aircraft carrier will head to the Persian Gulf four months earlier than scheduled as part of a Pentagon plan to maintain a beefed-up U.S. military presence in the region, according to Pentagon officials.

The USS John C. Stennis will set sail in September and remain overseas until February 2013. As CNN's Security Clearance first reported last week, the Obama administration and military had been debating whether to keep a second carrier in the region beyond a 2010 mandate that was set to expire in September.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta approved the deployment at the request of Gen. James Mattis, head of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. military operations in the Middle East, Pentagon spokesman George Little said Monday. The Stennis had been scheduled to deploy to the Pacific Command area.

The action essentially keeps two aircraft carriers in the region for the next several months. One option that had been before Panetta would have kept two carriers on station until the end of 2013, but he approved the more limited action with the option of reviewing an extension in the spring.

In addition to the Stennis, the USS Mobile Bay will join it, as well as the destroyer Paul Hamilton which will deploy straight to the Gulf instead of spending time in the Pacific region.

Pentagon press secretary George Little said the deployment was not a direct response to the crisis in Syria or rising tensions with Iran.

"This is about a wide range of security interests," he said.

The military is "mindful of the challenges posed by Iran, but ... this is not a decision based solely on the challenges posed by Iran," Little said.

soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Muhammad

    Vinegar Hill is a great theater. Be sure to check out Sneak Reviews for the best foriegn and independent video selection I have ever seen..Charlottesville hot in July? Hell, I just moved to New Orleans last weekend. Let me tell you about hot.

    September 13, 2012 at 12:40 am | Reply
  2. the Foreigner

    It might be instructive to all of us to research who benefits from free navigation in the Persian/Arabian Gulf – which nations use the physical oil that comes through the Straits of Hormuz, as well as who is selling it & profitting from that trade. You might be surprised at what you would find.

    And we should lighten up on George Patton's hypothetical comparison – he doesn't really belive Iranian Navy vessels can reach us, but it is a valid comparison.

    Thomas & Southern Belle – thank your relatives for their service, especially their family members remaining here at home. I pray for them all.

    July 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Reply
  3. T-Bone Thakur

    These waters are infested with Indian smugglers and financiers to terrorists. Drugs, precious metals, arms and ammo are the commodities in play. There is big money involved and terrorism is being bred on these waters. The recent episode with US Navy exemplifies the situation. We are all aware the terrorists have moved to Sinai and India and setting up HQs there.

    July 17, 2012 at 11:37 am | Reply
  4. Southern Belle

    Regardless of your political preferences, the fact of the matter is, we have men and women on these ships that are willing to put their lives on the line and families on hold to serve us, the citizens of the US. We often want to complain, but when you do, remember the men and women serving as you sit in your comfortable homes with your families watching this play out on tv. Have a little respect for them and this country that we call home. If you dont like it, then try some other country. See how you are treated there when you want to complain. And YES, I will vote Republican !!!

    July 17, 2012 at 10:55 am | Reply
    • Southern Belle

      Yes, Joe, you are so right. And I too have someone on the Paul Hamilton. A dear son in law. Prayer chain already started!

      July 17, 2012 at 11:33 am | Reply
    • Cheese Wonton

      Southern Belle, you might want to start a prayer chain for any IRG crew foolish enough to cross swords with the crew of the USS Paul Hamilton. Just saying .........................

      July 17, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Reply
    • x military

      1. They opted to join, they miss thier family, fhey suffer, they die, all their choice
      2. So if we dont agree that they sacrifice or the use of military violence then we should go find another country to live in so you want to take away our second amendment
      3. You assume that all or most other countries have no freedom of speech
      4. Figured you vote republican, let me guess a loved one in the military as well

      July 18, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Reply
    • CBA

      I have a grandson/son on the Paul Hamilton. I join you in praying for their safety. And I am grateful for their service to keep us safe here.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Reply
  5. Thomas Jensen

    Joe, You are right "The decision has been made, the sailors that are attached to these ships are the ones who have to make the sacrifices by putting everything else aside. " My second son is on the DDG 60 Paul Hamilton

    July 17, 2012 at 10:20 am | Reply
  6. steven6767

    It does not matter how many aircrafe carriers go to that reigon, they are all vulnerable easily if conflict happen, if we look at the iranians missibles, and experts, one said , you can not threat a man to kill if he does not afraid of dying. these are the iranians nature.

    July 17, 2012 at 6:03 am | Reply
    • Cheese Wonton

      Missiles do not reliably sink ships. If you look at the history of missiles in naval combat, most never even hit their target, deflected by a form of electronic warfare called seduction jamming. Even when they do hit, more than half the ships hit by missiles in combat did not sink. HMS Sheffield was lost due to the gross incompetence of the design of that ship and several ridiculous failures of basic damage control equipment. An Israeli ship on quarter the size of the Sheffield took a direct hit from an Iranian copy of the Chinese copy of the same missile that hit Sheffield and was back in service three weeks later. USS Stark, a smaller and more lightly built ship took two such missiles, fired at it by an Iraqi Mirage, and after patching up in Bahrain, sailed to the US under it's own power.
      Four of seven Exocet missiles fired at the British by the Argentines in 1982 were successfully deflected by jamming. All the the 40 something missiles fired by Egyptian and Syrian naval forces at the Israelis in 1973 were deflected by jamming. All of the many missiled fired at the US Navy by the Iranians in 1988 were successfully jammed (while all of the US missiles hit their targets). Even still the Iranians managed to save one frigate after numerous bomb and missile hits.
      If you look at what are called a SinkEx, ships routinely survive multiple missile and bomb hits without sinking, and this is without a crew on board to fight the fires and control flooding. Also find out how much heavy ordnance exploded on the flight decks of the aircraft carriers Forrestal and Enterprise during their tragic mishaps in the late 1960's. Multiple 1000 pound bombs detonated, but even that much damage did not sink the ship. There are no anti-ship missiles in Irans or China's inventory that can deliver a 1000 pound warhead. It would require an enemy to basically own the sky over a carrier for the better part of a day and be free to bomb it in multiple waves to have a chance to sink it from the air. Carriers have air wings to prevent exactly that, plus that air wing gives the carrier the ability to attack an enemy outside the range of their offensive weapons. Review what happened to the Iranian Navy in Operation Praying Mantis.

      July 17, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Reply
  7. Joe

    The decision has been made, the sailors that are attached to these ships are the ones who have to make the sacrifices by putting everything else aside. Instead of bickering about whether we have business over there or not, start saying some prayers for the men and women who will be doing an extended tour over there and pray that their families are safe and able to make through what will surely be a rough time for these sailors making the sacrifice.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:40 am | Reply
  8. Cyrus

    Israel should foot the fuel bill.....

    July 16, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Reply
  9. Greg

    Hahaha. Iran could not even make it halfway moron.

    July 16, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Reply
  10. George Patton

    Such is to be expected from the right-wing thugs in Washington!!! In truth, we have no business over there. Would any of you idiots here like it if the Iranians decided to send a fleet of ships into the Long Island Sound? Of course not!!!

    July 16, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Reply
    • mf7krime

      George Patton: How are right wing thugs responsible for this? Washington is controlled by left leaning democrats currently. Now I do agree that there is only one real party and that is the "war party" but to call them right wing is completely stupid, just as is your assertion that Iran's navy vessels could sail to the United States.

      It is true that the world was a peaceful eden-like oasis of love and understanding until the U.S. came along and invented war, death, destruction and torture. If only we would mind our own business everything would be great...

      July 17, 2012 at 1:37 am | Reply

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