The aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman’s strike group will remain deployed in the Mediterranean longer than anticipated, while thousands of troops who mobilized over the past two months in response to Russia’s military build-up and then invasion of Ukraine are probably going to remain activated into the summer, the Pentagon confirmed March 31.
The Truman has been operating in the Mediterranean Sea since late last year, and more than 5,000 troops are in Poland, training with local forces and facilitating handoffs of weapons and equipment to Ukrainian forces. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has decided both will extend past their original estimated deployments, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
“He reviews the posture literally every day, and he has decided that he’s going to keep the 82nd there for a while longer,” Kirby said. “And he has decided that the carrier Truman and her strike group will stay in the Med for a while longer.”
It’s unclear exactly how long the carrier strike group will remain deployed, given considerations like maintenance and other factors, Kirby said.
“I think what we’re trying to be careful of is sort of our hard ending dates on these temporary deployments, because we want to be able to monitor the situation on the ground and make the best and most flexible decisions in real time,” Kirby said.
The Truman and its strike group deployed in December, and in January, the carrier, its strike group and NATO forces kicked off a new maritime exercise called Neptune Strike ‘22 in the Mediterranean Sea. The drill was not in response to escalating tension with Russia, and was the result of planning dating back to 2020, the Pentagon said.
The strike group also completed maritime training with the French carrier Charles de Gaulle’s Task Force 473 and Italian carrier Cavour strike groups in the Mediterranean Sea in February.
Additionally, aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 1 — embarked on the Truman — has also conducted a variety of missions during the deployment, including NATO enhanced air policing starting in February.
The Truman’s carrier strike group includes guided-missile destroyers Bainbridge, Cole, Gravely, Jason Dunham, guided-missile cruiser San Jacinto, and staff from Carrier Strike Group 8.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.