NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Norfolk-based Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group will not come home as expected as the U.S. bolsters its support of Israel in their war with Hamas.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who was in Israel Friday to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli government officials, approved a deployment extension Tuesday for the Ford Strike Group, which was nearing the end of its six-month deployment to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility.
The Ford Strike Group includes the USS Normandy, USS Thomas Hudner, USS Ramage, USS Carney and USS Roosevelt.
Earlier last week, the U.S. Air Force announced the deployment of F-15, F-16 and A-10 fighter aircraft squadrons to the region.
This comes as the U.S. is boosting its presence in the region as Israel and Hamas are at war. The U.S. State Department, European Union and other Western countries consider Hamas to be a terrorist organization.
A few days ago, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group had originally planned to head to the U.S. European Command, but since changed course to the Mediterranean.
Austin has also placed about 2,000 personnel and a number of units on a heightened state of readiness, according to Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh, through a prepare to deploy order, “which increases the Department of Defense’s ability to respond quickly to the evolving security environment in the Middle East. No decision has been made to deploy any forces at this time.”