Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced on Sunday the U.S. is moving a carrier group to the eastern Mediterranean Sea, in addition to other moves, in response to the attack on Israel by Hamas this weekend.
The Ford carrier group is already in the Med, having recently conducted exercises off the coast of Italy, according to a statement by the Navy issued last Thursday (excerpt):
IONIAN SEA – The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group (GRFCSG) concluded a series of high-end training events with Italian naval forces in the Ionian Sea, Oct. 4, 2023, to increase interoperability as NATO allies and strengthen regional stability in the Mediterranean region.
My thoughts continue to be with the people of Israel and the many families who have lost loved ones as a result of the abhorrent terrorist attack by Hamas. Today, in response to this Hamas attack on Israel, and following detailed discussions with President Biden, I have directed several steps to strengthen Department of Defense posture in the region to bolster regional deterrence efforts.
I have directed the movement of the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group to the Eastern Mediterranean. This includes the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60), as well as the Arleigh-Burke-class guided missile destroyers USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116), USS Ramage (DDG 61), USS Carney (DDG 64), and USS Roosevelt (DDG 80). 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. The U.S. maintains ready forces globally to further reinforce this deterrence posture if required.
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.
Strengthening our joint force posture, in addition to the materiel support that we will rapidly provide to Israel, underscores the United States’ ironclad support for the Israel Defense Forces and the Israeli people. My team and I will continue to be in close contact with our Israeli counterparts to ensure they have what they need to protect their citizens and defend themselves against these heinous terrorist attacks.
Politico reported Sunday the Biden administration is planning to send more weapons to Israel and may allow a draw down of U.S. zmmunition pre-positioned in Israel (excerpt):
The Biden administration is working to fulfill Israel’s request to urgently transfer weapons to Tel Aviv, according to a U.S. official and second person familiar with the talks, a day after Hamas militants launched an unprecedented wave of attacks on southern Israel in a conflict that threatens to erupt into a wider war.
Israeli officials have asked the U.S. to transfer specific weapons systems, said the people, who were granted anonymity to speak ahead of any announcement, and Washington is working to make that happen. They did not say what those weapons were, citing operational security.
One option the White House may be considering is to release a little-known stockpile of American ammunition stored in Israel. The weapons are intended for the U.S. to use in Middle East conflicts, but the U.S. has also allowed Israel to access the ammunition in emergencies.
While the U.S. sent some of that ammunition to Ukraine to help it repel Russian invaders, there is still enough left in the stockpile for Israel, the U.S. official said.
The U.S. official said the administration does not anticipate that any military assistance to Israel will impact its ability to continue to send weapons to Ukraine, as the two countries use different systems.
In a readout of Joe Biden’s call with Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, the White House said Biden said more aid for Israel is on its way:
President Biden spoke this morning with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel. The President again expressed deep sympathy for all those missing, wounded, and killed, and pledged his full support for the Government and people of Israel in the face of an unprecedented and appalling assault by Hamas terrorists. They discussed the taking of hostages by Hamas terrorists, including entire families, the elderly, and young children. The President emphasized that there is no justification whatsoever for terrorism, and all countries must stand united in the face of such brutal atrocities.
President Biden updated the Prime Minister on the intensive diplomatic engagement undertaken by the United States over the last 24 hours in support of Israel. The President also conveyed that additional assistance for the Israeli Defense Forces is now on its way to Israel with more to follow over the coming days. The leaders also discussed ongoing efforts to ensure that no enemies of Israel believe they can or should seek advantage from the current situation.
The two leaders committed to stay in regular contact over the coming days.
There are reports, including this one by Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog that American citizens are among those kidnapped and being held by Hamas in Gaza.
It is now being reported that DOZENS of Americans are being held hostage by the Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists in Gaza.
Iran is NOT our friend.
This is TERRORISM.
We pray for the safe return of our countrymen & we pray for safety & security of our ally Israel. pic.twitter.com/eUdhJVaGVo
— Congressman Byron Donalds (@RepDonaldsPress) October 8, 2023