US Defence Secretary visits aircraft carrier in Middle East Deterrence

Sudan Events – Sumaya Sayed

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin visited the Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier in the eastern Mediterranean Sea on Wednesday and thanked its crew for their role in helping prevent a broader conflict in the Middle East during the Israel-Hamas war.

The nuclear-powered Ford, a small, floating city of more than 4,000 people with eight squadrons of aircraft, became a powerful symbol of American resolve by rushing closer to Israel after it was attacked by the Palestinian militant group Hamas on October 7.On Thursday, Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin discussed the Houthi threats to freedom of navigation in the Red Sea with regional officials.
Austin has extended the Ford’s deployment three times, hoping its presence would make Iran and Iran-aligned groups — particularly Lebanon’s Hezbollah — think twice before joining the fight against Israel.
“This carrier and crew are making history. Sometimes our greatest achievements are the bad things that we stop from happening. And at a moment of huge tensions in the region, you all have been the lynchpin to preventing a wider regional conflict,” Austin said, addressing the ship.
How much longer the Ford remains in the eastern Mediterranean is unclear, as is whether it will depart for its home port in Virginia before Israel moves from high-intensity combat in Gaza to a different, more limited phase of the war to dismantle Hamas.
Austin discussed planning for the transition with Israeli leaders on Monday in Tel Aviv, with an international outcry mounting over the high civilian death toll in Gaza.

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