Military officials said General McKinsey’s request requests 24-hour support from the aircraft carrier, with its fighter squadrons, and is seen as a specific reference to Eisenhower, which left its main port of Virginia in February and headed for the Mediterranean. For free. There, she participated in exercises with the Italian and Moroccan navies. Eisenhower is now located in the Arabian Sea.
Colonel Dave Butler, a spokesman for General Millie, declined to comment on the carrier’s request. Captain Bill Urban, a spokesman for Central Command, declined to comment. Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said Wednesday that Mr. Austin “has made it clear that we will implement the withdrawal in Afghanistan in a safe, orderly, and thoughtful manner, and that we will do everything in our power to protect our forces in Afghanistan. Operation.”
He also refused to discuss the request, saying, “For operational security reasons, we will also not inspect the specific force protection measures planned.”
Current and former senior Navy officials have said immediate military missions may require an extended deployment of warships. But when this happens frequently, the long-term health and readiness of the fleet can be eroded, jeopardizing the Navy’s ability to fulfill future missions.
“We have these patriotic assets like aircraft carriers to be available in times of crisis, especially when there is a need to protect the lives of troops on the ground,” Vice Admiral Kevin Donigan, the retired Commander of the Fifth Fleet, said in an interview. . “But you don’t want this to be a routine thing, which has happened in the past.”
Aboard the Eisenhower ship, some sailors were already worried about extending their deployment, especially if the tanker ended up providing air operations during the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, which Mr. Biden said must be completed by 9/11.
A Defense Department official said this week that it remains an open question whether US forces will have to leave Afghanistan or whether the withdrawal will be peaceful. He spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak publicly about the matter.