Progressive radio talk show host Thom Hartmann discussed the deployment of the USS Eisenhower to the Persian Gulf as a possible sign that the US is preparing for war with Iran.
I disagree, if one is looking at that event alone.
(which is not a government website, by the way):
In September 2006 it was reported that the Eisenhower Strike Group was under orders to depart the United States in early October 2006, slated to arrive in the Persian Gulf on or aabout 21 October 2006. Some observers were alarmed that this was part of the Bush Administration's plans to attack Iran's WMD facilities immediately prior to the November 7th Congressional election. This seems improbable. In recent years the Navy has normally stationed one carrier in the Persian Gulf to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. The IKE will replace the Abraham Lincoln in this role.
Global Security was correct when looking at that specific deployment. However, as they mentioned, there are others out there who don't believe this is "situation normal."
If one links a combination of recent events with that deployment, one might find more of a story here.
Here’s a tale that makes Mark Foley seem absolutely harmless in comparison: U.S. warships are headed for the coast of Iran, just in time for a late-October war. Maybe even a nuclear war. A nuclear war started by the White House. You know, to make sure Iran doesn’t develop dangerous nuclear weapons that could be brazenly used against some country or another.
Today, the USS Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group leaves port in Norfolk for the Persian Gulf. The group includes the USS Anzio, the guided-missile destroyers USS Ramage and USS Mason and the attack sub USS Newport News. Time and The Nation are among the mainstream mags saying this is the beginning of the war. We’ll tell you what some less-mainstream sources say, after the jump.
Wonkette goes on to correctly state that the Ike is reportedly heading there to relieve the USS Enterprise, not the Abraham Lincoln, as Global Security states, which is presently in dry dock in Puget Sound. (A surprising error, I may add.) Wonkette also includes links from media sources like "Time Magazine" and "The Nation" who point to possible signs of a brewing first strike in Iran.From The Nation:
According to Lieut. Mike Kafka, a spokesman at the headquarters of the Second Fleet, based in Norfolk, Virginia, the Eisenhower Strike Group, bristling with Tomahawk cruise missiles, has received orders to depart the United States in a little over a week. Other official sources in the public affairs office of the Navy Department at the Pentagon confirm that this powerful armada is scheduled to arrive off the coast of Iran on or around October 21.
That by itself is not a story. Every Nimitz class nuclear carrier has evolved into a "Strike Group." The Ike is reportedly relieving the Enterprise Strike Group...another "armada."
However, this does make it a little more alarming:
The Eisenhower had been in port at the Naval Station Norfolk for several years for refurbishing and refueling of its nuclear reactor; it had not been scheduled to depart for a new duty station until at least a month later, and possibly not till next spring. Family members, before the orders, had moved into the area and had until then expected to be with their sailor-spouses and parents in Virginia for some time yet. First word of the early dispatch of the "Ike Strike" group to the Persian Gulf region came from several angry officers on the ships involved, who contacted antiwar critics like retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner and complained that they were being sent to attack Iran without any order from the Congress.
"This is very serious," said Ray McGovern, a former CIA threat-assessment analyst who got early word of the Navy officers' complaints about the sudden deployment orders. (McGovern, a twenty-seven-year veteran of the CIA, resigned in 2002 in protest over what he said were Bush Administration pressures to exaggerate the threat posed by Iraq.
The interesting thing is that, when you check the Enterprise websites, it does not give even an estimated date as to when they might actually return from deployment.
Sure, the official website
confirms that the "Big E" is on a six-month deployment:
The nuclear powered Enterprise and embarked Carrier Air Wing 1 departed Naval Station Norfolk May 2 for a regularly scheduled six-month deployment in support of the global war on terrorism.
The Enterprise Strike Group is currently operating in the northern Arabian Sea in support of maritime security operations and Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.
That six months doesn't end until sometime in November.
However, my understanding is when another carrier is on the way as relief, the returning carrier is a little more public with scheduled return dates.
Another aspect of the Enterprise deployment...much of what they have been doing revolves around operations in Afghanistan. Looking at it from the standpoint of a potential Iranian conflict, the fact that the US turned over command of 12,000 troops in Afghanistan to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (NATO-ISAF)
makes chilling sense. In essence, the Bush Administration may be quietly extracating itself from major responsibility in Afghanistan, possibly leaving forces free for "other assignments."
And "quietly" is the operative word. It adds a new angle as to why the Administration has made no comment about the transfer...allowing NATO to break the news on its website.
Also of note: The USS Harry S. Truman will be coming out of its DPIA
(Dry Dock Incremental Availability), ambiguously stated "this Fall," and will be available for deployment. What's interesting about this is that their entire deployment history has been in the Persian Gulf
and each one approximately 6 months starting in October, November or December.
If the Truman deployment remains consistent with their past deployments, this could possibly overlap with both the Enterprise and the Eisenhower.
However, the Ronald Reagan Strike Group had their maiden deployment to the Persian Gulf from Jan - July 2006. They should be available for their second deployment by Jan 07. Also, the USS John C. Stennis Strike Group
is currently completing its Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX). This is an intense training requiring all parts of the Strike Force to work together as a team and is done so in final preparation for deployment.
The Enterprise Strike Group had just finished their COMPTUEX training before their deployment in May 2006.
- We know for sure that the Enterprise
and the Eisenhower
will be in the Gulf at the same time, even if it's just for a short overlap.
- We know that the Harry Truman
is scheduled for deployment "sometime in the Fall" and has only ever been deployed to the Gulf.
- We know that the Ronald Reagan
will come to the end of a normal docking cycle in December and that Jan of last year was when they were deployed to the Gulf for 6 months.
- We know that the John C. Stennis
is completing an exercise which is normally used as the final preparation for deployment.
We also know that:
- The US has turned over most of its command and control in Afghanistan to NATO
I guess only time will tell if these are all coincidences or part of a coordinated plan.
Labels: aircraft carrier, deploy, Persian Gulf, USS Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group