MidEast Tension Escalates…US Deploys Carrier Strike Group Four Months Early

The USS John C Stennis, a Nimitz Class aircraft carrier, was deployed today to the Middle East… four months early.

In response to escalating threats in Iran and Syria, the carrier strike group will replace the USS Enterprise and join a second one, the USS Eisenhower, to maintain an unusual two carrier presence in the Persian Gulf.

UPI reports,

The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis is being rushed to the Persian Gulf as tensions between Israel and Iran edge closer to the boiling point.

The Nimitz class carrier, with an air wing of about 90 aircraft, sets sail Monday on an eight-month deployment to the region — four months ahead of schedule.

In the gulf it will join the USS Enterprise Strike Group, giving the United States a powerful deterrent to any Iranian attack on commercial oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz or a counterpunch to Iranian military action against U.S. military facilities in the region or those of its allies. …

Panetta said the Stennis Strike Group, which includes a guided missile cruiser and four guided missile destroyers, is necessary in the gulf to guard against threats to U.S. national security interests and “obviously, Iran is one of those threats,” he said.

The word “crisis” has become nearly a synonym for the Middle East. U.S. and Israeli ally Hosni Mubarak, for decades the president of Egypt, has been ousted and replaced by a Muslim fundamentalist regime that has sent tanks to the Sinai border in violation of peace accords; and Syrian strongman Bashar Assad is battling a rebellion that has left thousands dead and threatens his demise.

Syria is known to have chemical weapons, which the West fears could fall into the hands of jihadist groups or be used in what is as close to a civil war as you can get in Syria. …

Yet as serious as those issues are, none has topped the conundrum of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which Tel Aviv views as a direct threat to Israel’s very existence, an existence that Tehran’s leadership repeatedly vows to end.

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