The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group has entered the Mediterranean on its way to the Persian Gulf to join a French carrier in war strikes against the so-called Islamic State group militants.
The French carrier Charles de Gaulle has launched strikes on ISIS from the Eastern Mediterranean, but will soon sail for the Persian Gulf, a French official said, to continue waging war on the brutal terror group, which claimed responsibility for the Nov. 13 Paris terror attacks that killed 130 and left hundreds wounded.
The French carrier will be joined by the Truman CSG in mid-December in the Persian Gulf. Military planners had weighed keeping the flotilla in the Eastern Med for airstrikes, but decided that the Persian Gulf was a more effective region from which to launch strikes, according to Navy officials.
The Truman's deployment comes as the war against ISIS mounts in the wake of the Paris attacks and the bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula that killed all 224 passengers.
Officials said it would be easier to manage the airspace over Syria with Truman launching its jets from the Persian Gulf, in addition to the symbolic boost of having a flattop back in the Persian Gulf; U.S. Central Command has been without a carrier since the Theodore Roosevelt left in mid-October.
Truman will be in the Mediterranean for the next several days conducting "theater security operations" with partners in the region, and will likely stop for a port call, said a Navy official who asked for anonymity to discuss future operations.
The Charles de Gaulle is expected to head to the Persian Gulf before Truman, but no announcements have been made by the French government yet.
The Navy's top officer and the master chief petty officer of the Navy visited the Truman over Thanksgiving and praised the group for completing a hurried work-up cycle.
"It is hard to imagine how in-demand you are right now around the world," said Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations, in a closed-circuit TV address. "It is a completely uncertain world right now. Things are changing by the minute and the challenges you face, the complexity you face, the uncertainty you face, is probably higher than it's been in the past 20-25 years."