AP

The US is moving quickly to boost Israel’s military. A look at what assistance it is providing

Oct 12, 2023, 7:39 AM | Updated: 8:23 am

FILE - The USS Gerald R. Ford, arrives in Halifax on Oct. 28, 2022. Within hours of the horrific at...

FILE - The USS Gerald R. Ford, arrives in Halifax on Oct. 28, 2022. Within hours of the horrific attack by Hamas, the U.S. began moving warships and aircraft to the region to be ready to provide Israel with whatever it needs to respond.(Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

Within hours of the horrific attack by Hamas, the U.S. began moving warships and aircraft to the region to be ready to provide Israel with whatever it needs to respond.

A second U.S. carrier strike group departs from Norfolk, Virginia, on Friday. Scores of aircraft are heading to U.S. military bases around the Middle East. And special operations forces are now assisting Israel’s military in planning and intelligence.

The buildup reflects U.S. concern that the deadly fighting between Hamas and Israel could escalate into a more dangerous regional conflict. So the primary mission for those ships and warplanes for now is to establish a force presence that deters Hezbollah, Iran or others from taking advantage of the situation. But the forces the U.S. sent are capable of more than that.

The U.S. is also expediting the shipment of munitions and interceptors for Israel’s fight against Hamas.

A look at what weapons and options the U.S. military could provide:

WEAPONS AND SPECIAL OPERATIONS FORCES

The U.S. is providing some personnel and much-needed munitions to Israel. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that a small cell of special operations forces was now assisting Israel with intelligence and planning. They have not been tasked with hostage rescue, contrary to some reporting, a defense official said, but could if they were requested to do so.

The U.S. is also getting U.S. defense companies to expedite weapons orders by Israel that were already on the books. Chief among those is getting munitions for Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system sped along.

President Joe Biden said Tuesday that resupplying Iron Dome munitions and air defense systems was an immediate priority.

“We’re surging additional military assistance, including ammunition and interceptors to replenish Iron Dome,” Biden said. “We’re going to make sure that Israel does not run out of these critical assets to defend its cities and its citizens.”

Iron Dome’s missiles target rockets that approach one of its cities. According to Raytheon, Israel has 10 Iron Dome systems in place to protect its cities. Beginning with Saturday’s attack, Hamas has fired more than 5,000 rockets at Israel, most of which the system has been able to intercept, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Raytheon produces most of the missile components for Iron Dome in the U.S., and the Army has two Iron Dome systems in its stockpile.

NAVY SHIPS AND PLANES

One of the most visible examples of the U.S. response was the announcement Sunday by the Pentagon to redirect the Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group to sail toward Israel. The carrier had just completed an exercise with the Italian Navy when the ship and its crew of about 5,000 were ordered to quickly sail to the Eastern Mediterranean.

The carrier provides a host of options. It’s a primary command and control operations center and can conduct information warfare. It can launch and recover E2-Hawkeye surveillance planes, recognized by their 24-foot (7-meter) diameter disc-shaped radar. The planes provide early warnings on missile launches, conduct surveillance and manage the airspace, detecting not only enemy aircraft but also directing U.S. movements.

The Ford carries F-18 fighter jets that could fly intercepts or strike targets. The carrier also has significant capabilities for humanitarian work, including an onboard hospital with an ICU and emergency room and about 40 medics, surgeons and doctors. It sails with helicopters that can be used to airlift critical supplies in or victims out.

On Friday, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group will leave its homeport of Norfolk, Virginia, and sail for the Mediterranean, potentially doubling the Navy’s Israel response.

The Eisenhower had already been scheduled to deploy to the Mediterranean on a regular rotation, and the Ford is near the end of its deployment. But the Biden administration may decide to extend the Ford’s deployment and keep both strike groups out there, White House spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday.

AIR FORCE WARPLANES

The Pentagon has also ordered additional warplanes to bolster existing squadrons of A-10, F-15 and F-16 squadrons at bases throughout the Middle East and is ready to add more if needed.

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said Tuesday at an Atlantic Council event that the service was doubling up by directing units that were about to come home to remain in place and stay there along with their replacements.

The U.S. Air Force already has significant airpower in the region to conduct manned and unmanned operations, most notably in Syria where an Air Force F-16 last week was ordered to shoot down a Turkish drone that was posing a threat to U.S. ground forces operating there.

Kendall also said U.S. Air Force C-17s have landed in and departed from Israel since the attacks. The transport planes were picking up U.S. military personnel who were there for a military exercise that hadn’t started yet when the attacks began, the Air Force said in a statement.

Neither the Air Force nor Central Command would comment on what additional missions U.S. airpower might take on in response to the conflict.

___

Associated Press writer Colleen Long contributed to this report.

 

AP

Photo: Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump sits in the courtroom at...

Michael R. Sisak, Jennifer Peltz, Eric Tucker and Jake Offenhartz, The Associated Press

Trump tried to ‘corrupt’ the 2016 election, prosecutor alleges as hush money trial gets underway

Trump tried to illegally influence the 2016 election by preventing damaging stories about himself from becoming public, a prosecutor said.

4 hours ago

supreme court homelessness...

Lindsay Whitehurst

With homelessness on the rise, the Supreme Court will weigh bans on sleeping outdoors

The Supreme Court will consider whether banning homeless people from sleeping outside when shelter space is lacking amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

6 hours ago

Image: Former President Donald Trump and his lawyer Todd Blanche appear at Manhattan criminal in Ne...

Associated Press

Police to review security outside courthouse hosting Trump trial after man sets himself on fire

Crews rushed away a person after fire was extinguished outside where jury selection was taking place in the Donald Trump criminal trial.

3 days ago

Photo: Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is sworn-in before the House Committee on Hom...

the MyNorthwest Staff with wire reports

Senate dismisses two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security secretary, ends trial

The Senate dismissed impeachment charges against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, as Republicans pushed to remove him.

5 days ago

idaho gender-affirming care...

Associated Press

Supreme Court allows Idaho to enforce its ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth

The Supreme Court is allowing Idaho to enforce its ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth while lawsuits over the law proceed.

6 days ago

Image: Former President Donald Trump speaks to the press in Manhattan state court in New York City ...

Associated Press

Trump’s hush money trial gets underway; 1st day ends without any jurors selected

The historic hush money trial of Donald Trump got underway Monday with the arduous process of selecting a jury to hear the case.

7 days ago

The US is moving quickly to boost Israel’s military. A look at what assistance it is providing