U.S Navy’s Amphibious Assault Ship USS Bataan Approaches Israel

A marine rapid response force of the US is on its way to the waters off Israel’s coast, per a defense official.

Image Credits: c2f.usff.navy.mil

The force, comprising 2,000 Marines as well as sailors, will join an increasing number of US war vessels and forces that converge on Israel as the US tends to send out a message of deterrence to Iran and prevent the war in Gaza from turning out as a regional conflict. 

The move happened as the US military bolstered its presence in the Middle East, including the deployment of a second aircraft carrier to the eastern Mediterranean Sea and also sending out some Air Force fighter jets to the area. 

CNN earlier reported that Lloyd Austin, the Secretary of Defense, has ordered that roughly 2,000 troops prepare for potential deployment to Israel to assist with tasks, including medical as well as logistical support, per several defence officials.

This order does not indicate that the troops will deploy or any is going to serve in a combat role if they do go to Israel, officials said. However, Austin’s decision has cut short the timeline the identified troops are going to have to gear up for deployment if they’re asked that way, per the officials. 

The US has a carrier strike group deployed in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The second is on the way. The official wouldn’t specify where the Marine unit would be going, but it could stay in the Red Sea off the southern coast of Israel, which would be putting the US forces close to the nation’s two coastlines.

The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (abbreviated the MEU) is part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group. In recent times, it has reportedly been stationed close to Kuwait as part of a scheduled exercise. Still, it departed early on as a result of upcoming events, Captain Angelica White, a spokesperson associated with the unit, informed the Marine Corps Times last week.

CNN reported on Friday that the unit had been preparing for a potential move toward Israel.

The Marine unit is a specialist in tasks like amphibious operations, humanitarian assistance, crisis response, and some special operations. The unit is on the Bataan, which is an amphibious assault vessel that’s in the Gulf of Oman currently, the officials said.

The Bataan and the 26th MEU have been well-operating in the Middle East right since August 2023 as part of a focused effort to deter Iran’s aggression in the crucial waterways all over the region, including the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman.

References: WSJ, CNN

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