Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group to move to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea as a result of Saturday’s attacks in Israel.
The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group has been in the Mediterranean Sea since June when it resumed the U.S.’s continuous presence in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
As of Oct. 2, the carrier strike group, which includes aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG-60) and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116), USS Ramage (DDG-61), USS Carney (DDG-64) and USS Roosevelt (DDG-80), were operating in the Mediterranean near Italy, according to The USNI News’ tracker.
In addition to the repositioning in the strike group, Austin also plans to increase Air Force squadrons of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, F-15, F-16 and A-10 tactical aircraft in the region, according to the secretary’s statement.
The movements come after Austin spoke with President Joe Biden about the U.S. response to the Hamas attack on Israel.
”Strengthening our joint force posture, in addition to the materiel support that we will rapidly provide to Israel, underscored the United States’ ironclad support for the Israel Defense Forces and the Israeli people,” Austin said in the statement.
On Saturday morning, Hamas attacked Israel with forces moving in from the Gaza strip, surprising and overwhelming the Israel Defense Forces in southern Isreal, according to a CNN report.
“There are hostages and prisoners of war that Hamas took. There are also deaths among IDF soldiers. We don’t have an exact number yet – we are at war,” IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told reporters.
Hamas is the U.S. State Department-designated foreign terrorist organization that governs Gaza, a territory the State Department considers occupied by Israel. At least 600 Israelis and 400 Palestinians have been killed, according to Israeli paper Haaretz.
Later on Sunday, Austin spoke with Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant “to express support for the people of Israel and to receive updates on Israel’s operation to restore security and safety from Hamas’ terrorist attack,” according to a Pentagon statement.
“[Austin] reaffirmed the unwavering support of the United States for Israel’s right to defend itself and provided updates on U.S. actions in response… Austin underscored these steps were taken to strengthen the U.S. military posture in the region to bolster regional deterrence efforts.”