The US Navy has cut short home leave for crew of aircraft carrier USS Stennis by four months to send the warship back to the Middle East and Persian Gulf next week.
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta notified the USS Stennis crew in Seattle on Wednesday that they are needed in the Middle East region, following the requests forwarded by the US Central Command.
The Stennis had departed from the US Fifth Fleet in Bahrain in January and was due to be redeployed next to the Pacific towards the end of 2012, Reuters reported.
In early July, the US navy added another warship to its Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, in an attempt to bolster America’s military presence in the Persian Gulf.
Earlier in June, other four mine countermeasures (MCM) ships arrived at the Fifth Fleet to be deployed for a seven-month period in an area of operations, including the Persian Gulf, Sea of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.
Washington has been weighing various alternatives to boost its military presence in the Middle East, particularly across the Persian Gulf.
A US Senate report indicates that the United States has now nearly 15,000 troops in three bases across Kuwait – three times the average number of American forces in the Middle Eastern country before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
According to the report, having the military bases throughout the region is a “lily pad” model to allow for a rapid deployment of military forces.
The American forces have also been stationed in Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
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