White House National Security Advisor John Bolton announced late yesterday that the United States “is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the U.S. Central Command region to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime.” As NBC News’ report noted, the strike group is not small.
The strike group consists of the Abraham Lincoln, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier; the USS Leyte Gulf, a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser; Carrier Air Wing Seven; and destroyers from Destroyer Squadron Two.
There’s no shortage of questions surrounding the announcement. For example, was the Lincoln Carrier Strike Group going to be there anyway? NBC News’ report added, “According to the Navy, the strike group left Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, on April 1 on a regularly scheduled deployment.”
We similarly don’t know what, if anything, this announcement was a response to.
But stepping back, I’m also eager to hear why John Bolton was the one to make this announcement. As a rule, the Pentagon would be responsible for issuing statements about deployments like these.
Does it have anything to do with the fact that Donald Trump still hasn’t nominated anyone to serve as the secretary of Defense – an unprecedented vacancy that’s now lasted more than four months?
It’s the kind of question that might be answered at the Pentagon’s next press briefing, except in the Trump era, the DOD doesn’t really have press briefings anymore.
Reporters might also ask the White House why Bolton is tackling a responsibility that would ordinarily fall with the Defense secretary, but the Trump White House doesn’t hold many press briefings, either.
What we have instead is a vague press release from an ultra-hawk on Iran, who may or may not speak on behalf of the president, about a provocative military move in the Middle East. What could possibly go wrong?