View Full Version : Navy readies another carrier for Mideast

02-06-03, 06:36 PM
The USS Kitty Hawk may be deployed to the Middle East.

101st Airborne Division expecting deployment orders
Thursday, February 6, 2003 Posted: 6:28 PM EST (2328 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Navy is preparing to send another aircraft carrier to the Middle East in preparation for a possible war with Iraq, according to a Pentagon official.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was expected to sign deployment orders Thursday that would alert the USS Kitty Hawk to be prepared to move into the region on short notice.

In addition, the 101st Airborne Division, one of the U.S. Army's key fighting forces, was alerted Thursday to expect deployment orders soon as part of the buildup for a possible war against Iraq, military officials said.

"We can confirm that the deployment orders have been signed for the 101st," said Maj. Carl Purvis. But military officials in Washington said later the orders have not actually been signed, but soon will be.

The 101st Airborne Division is made up of about 20,000 troops.

Move would boost carrier presence
The departure of the Kitty Hawk from its home base in Japan would not leave that Pacific region uncovered, the official said. Military planners would move the carrier USS Carl Vinson in the region as a precaution as tensions continue with North Korea, according to U.S. military officials.

The Carl Vinson is in port at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The carriers requested for the region thus far are the USS Constellation, already in the Persian Gulf; USS Harry S. Truman, operating in the eastern Mediterranean Sea; USS Abraham Lincoln, now in the North Arabian Sea and returning to the Persian Gulf; and the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which is headed to the eastern Mediterranean.

The Navy is also ready to deploy the USS Nimitz, but deployment orders are not expected at this time for that carrier, Pentagon officials said Thursday.

When the Abraham Lincoln finally leaves the Persian Gulf, the carrier and its support ships will have been deployed close to nine months, three months longer than a typical carrier group deployment.

CNN Pentagon Producer Mike Mount contributed to this report.