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U.S. is sending a carrier strike group closer to Israel and will begin supplying munitions

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks during a joint press conference with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley (not pictured), following an online meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, at the Pentagon in Washington, May 25, 2023.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

The U.S. military is moving an aircraft carrier strike group and military aircraft closer to Israel as a show of support, and will also begin supplying Israel with munitions and other military supplies immediately, said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Austin said Sunday afternoon that he had directed the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group to go to the Eastern Mediterranean. The group includes the carrier, a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser, and four Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers.

“We have also taken steps to augment U.S Air Force F-35, F-15, F-16, and A-10 fighter aircraft squadrons in the region,” he said. “In addition, the United States government will be rapidly providing the Israel Defense Forces with additional equipment and resources, including munitions. The first security assistance will begin moving today and arriving in the coming days.”

“Strengthening our joint force posture, in addition to the materiel support that we will rapidly provide to Israel, underscores the United States’ ironclad support for the Israel Defense Forces and the Israeli people,” said Austin. “My team and I will continue to be in close contact with our Israeli counterparts to ensure they have what they need to protect their citizens and defend themselves against these heinous terrorist attacks.”

According to two U.S. officials familiar with the planning, the assets, specifically the ships, will not be in place for several days. 

The U.S. is also working through plans for a possible non-combatant evacuation — helping Americans get out of Israel, according to the officials. Nothing has been decided or ordered, but officials are working through options, including one that involves putting some Americans on the Navy ships to get them to safety.

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