PENTAGON: 4 DESTROYERS, AIRCRAFT CARRIER TO REMAIN NEAR SYRIA

The Washington Times on September 12, 2013, reported that the US Navy will keep four destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean and an aircraft carrier strike group in the Red Sea to maintain a “strong military posture” for a potential strike on Syria, the Pentagon said. Excerpts below:

“We have no plans at this time to change our military posture in the Mediterranean,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said. “We’re prepared for any potential military contingencies that might involve Syria.”

U.S. officials have voiced the need for continuing to apply military pressure on Syria as the Obama administration explores a possible diplomatic solution by working with Russia through the United Nations to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons program.

The USS Nimitz carrier strike group, which has two destroyers and a guided-missile cruiser, has been extended for an additional two weeks in the Red Sea from the date it was due to start returning home to the Pacific Coast.

The destroyer USS Stout recently entered the Mediterranean to replace the USS Barry, the deployment of which in the region has been extended. Two other destroyers — the USS Ramage and the USS Gravely — also are deployed in the Mediterranean.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday hosted a bipartisan breakfast meeting with five members of Congress to discuss Syria.
“I don’t think it was arm-twisting. I think it was an honest, open, candid discussion,” Mr. Little said of the meeting. “Ongoing engagement is the name of the game.”

“The option that we’ve been contemplating is limited in duration and scope, and it will involve no boots on the ground,” he said. “It is in the national interest of the United States to ensure that chemical weapons are not used. We’re going to maintain a strong military posture.”

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