(WASHINGTON) — The Pentagon is keeping the aircraft carrier George H W Bush and the other ships in its strike group in the Mediterranean for a few days more than originally scheduled.
Officials said the carrier is being kept in the Mediterranean as part of the overall effort to reassure America’s allies in the region during the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren told reporters Friday that the carrier will continue operations in the Mediterranean for a few more days “to do additional training and enhance maritime capabilities in the region.”
Warren said the ships will remain in the Mediterranean “frankly because a lot of what we’re doing there is to reassure our allies.”
The carrier strike group has been in the Mediterranean since March 2 as part of its scheduled deployment to European Command and Central Command areas of operation.
The carrier just wrapped up a port visit to Antakya, Turkey and was slated to make its way through the Suez Canal to head towards its deployment in the Persian Gulf region.
Also Friday, the Air Force completed the deployment of 12 F-16′s and 150 airmen sent to Lask, Poland to augment the 10-person aviation detachment that is continually based there for rotating training missions.
The F-16′s will remain in Poland until further notice and will not impact another pending rotation of American aircraft that will begin later this month.
Last week Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced he was ordering the augmentation of the aviation detachment in Poland as well as sending additional aircraft to join the NATO air policing mission in the Baltics. Six F-15′s arrived in Lithuania last Friday to join the four F-15′s that were already participating as part of that mission.
Both moves were done to show NATO allies in eastern Europe that the U.S. is committed to the alliance’s collective defense.
The destroyer USS Truxtun is currently on a port visit in Bulgaria as part of a long-scheduled training exercise with the Bulgarian and Romanian navies.
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