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U.S. Military Planning for ‘Any and All Escalation Scenarios’ in Southwest Asia

Oct. 11, 2023, (EIRNS)—In a briefing following President Joe Biden’s statement on Israel, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters that Biden had ordered “contingency planning (for) any and all escalation scenarios.... We are now deeply engaged in that planning. And we are consulting with allies and partners as well about all of the potential scenarios that might unfold in the days ahead.”

That planning does not include, at this point, putting U.S. forces on the ground, Sullivan stated. “At this point, that is not something that is under planning,” Sullivan said. “What we are focused on when we talk about sending experts, it is people who can work on intelligence, who can work on overall planning, who can work on coordination with the Israeli government.”

Additional U.S. forces are already moving into place, however. U.S. Central Command announced yesterday afternoon that the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group had arrived in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea “in order to deter any actor seeking to escalate the situation or widen this war.” The carrier group includes a guided missile cruiser and four guided missile destroyers. “Efforts to increase U.S. posture continue, including the rapid movement into theater of U.S. Air Force F-15s, F-16s and A-10s to augment existing fighter squadrons in the region,” the Centcom release said.

Politico reported yesterday that USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier group could join the Ford later. The Eisenhower is scheduled to depart Norfolk on Oct. 13 on a previously scheduled deployment to Europe but could join the Ford in the Eastern Mediterranean by the end of October. Lt. Col. Bryon McGarry, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement that Secretary Lloyd Austin will continue to review the deployment plans of both ships, “as he considers the appropriate balance of maritime capability across theaters in support of national security priorities.”

As for the experts that Sullivan referred to yesterday, The Messenger reported that they are hostage rescue experts who are advising the IDF on freeing the 150 hostages that Hamas is estimated to have in captivity. At the same time, however, two unnamed U.S. military officials told the news site that U.S. special operations forces have been placed on alert in a nearby European country. Sources described these troops as “door kickers,” who could conduct a rescue effort themselves, if ordered.

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