Tuesday December 1st, 2015 7:59AM

Pentagon sending aircraft carrier to Mideast early

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon is sending an aircraft carrier to the Middle East several months early to make sure at least two carriers will constantly be present in the troubled region.

There are two carriers in the area now, but one was scheduled to leave before its replacement arrived to fill that gap, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has approved sending by late summer the USS John C. Stennis strike group, which also includes the Aegis guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay and some 5,500 sailors.

The extra presence was approved late last week on a request by Gen. James Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, Pentagon press Secretary George Little said Monday.

Questioned about whether the deployment is a response to problems with Iran or perhaps the violence in Syria, he declined to be specific. Little said the need comes from a "wide range of security issues" in the region.

"This is not about any one particular country or any one particular threat," he said.

The USS John C..Stennis will have to accelerate its training and re-equipping of the ship, because it just left the area in December.

After that last deployment, Iran's army chief Gen. Ataollah Salehi in January warned the U.S. warship not to return to the Gulf, but its replacement, the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, entered the Gulf without incident later in January.

Although U.S. warships have had a presence in the region for decades, the deployment schedule change comes during an escalating showdown between Iran and the West over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.

The Pentagon also recently doubled the number of minesweepers in the region, giving the U.S. greater flexibility to counter any Iranian effort to mine the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf.

The strait is routinely patrolled by Iranian and U.S. warships. Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strategic waterway, which is the transit route for about a fifth of the world's oil supply, in retaliation for increased Western-led sanctions.

Another ship, the USS Ponce, has also been sent. The amphibious transport dock was recently retrofitted to become what is known as an afloat forward staging base.
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Doctors: Blood clot located in Clinton's head
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton developed a blood clot in her head but did not suffer a stroke or neurological damage, her doctors said Monday. They say they are confident that she will make a full recovery.
3:55PM ( 2 years ago )
Illinois Sen. Kirk to return a year after stroke
Nearly a year after a stroke left him barely able to move the left side of his body, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is expected to climb the 45 steps to the Senate's front door this week - a walk that's significant not just for Illinois' junior senator, but also for medical researchers and hundreds of thousands of stroke patients.
3:54PM ( 2 years ago )
U.S. News
Couch names administrative team
Ahead of his scheduled swearing in Friday, Hall County Sheriff-elect Gerald Couch named his top administrative team Monday.
6:28PM ( 2 years ago )
Tech beats Southern California in Sun Bowl
Tevin Washington threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to help Georgia Tech beat Southern California 21-7 on Monday in the Sun Bowl.
5:54PM ( 2 years ago )
Hall Co. officials launch health-based initiative for employees
Hall County officials believe healthy county employees will be of greater service to the county. With that in mind, they have created a health-based fitness initiative to provide free fitness training for county workers.
5:46PM ( 2 years ago )
Local/State News
White House offers governors info on refugees in their states after Syrian migrants uproar
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is proposing to offer governors individualized reports about refugees in their states.White House chief of staff Denis McDonough says in letters to all 50 governors t...
9:08PM ( 10 hours ago )
Standoff at Planned Parenthood ends with suspect's arrest; 3 killed, 9 wounded
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A gunman who opened fire inside a Planned Parenthood clinic was arrested Friday after engaging in gun battles with authorities during an hourslong standoff that killed t...
1:13AM ( 3 days ago )
White House undergoes Thanksgiving Day lockdown after man draped in American flag jumps fence
WASHINGTON (AP) — A man draped in an American flag climbed over the fence at the White House on Thursday, prompting a lockdown as the first family celebrated Thanksgiving.The man was immediately appre...
10:11PM ( 4 days ago )
Obama grants reprieve to turkeys 'Honest' and 'Abe' during White House ceremony
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama spared two turkeys named for one of the nation's most admired presidents, continuing a White House tradition that provides a refreshing sense of amusement and...
9:18PM ( 5 days ago )
The Latest: UN Security Council strongly condemns 'horrifying' attack in Mali, urges probe
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — The latest on the attack on a hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako. (All times local):___4:55 a.m.The U.N. Security Council is condemning "the horrifying terrorist attack" at the...
10:58PM ( 1 week ago )