The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier and its Carrier Strike Group have entered the Mediterranean Sea.
This makes it, currently, the closest aircraft carrier to the Middle East. It has been quite a while since the US hasn’t had one of its super warships deployed in or near the Persian Gulf.
Starting in the spring of 2019, the U.S. Navy has been publicly ordered to keep a near-constant presence in the region, as if this were something new.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced that a global posture review is taking place, and it would be reconsidered whether a carrier was even needed in the region. Still, the Mediterranean Sea is quite nearby, and the removal of the Carrier Strike Group (CSG) from the Persian Gulf was a political move.
It’s Lloyd Austin’s dream to have a CSG in every hotspot in the world, but resources don’t allow for that.
Still, the US has the amphibious warship USS Makin Island (LHD-8) in the Persian Gulf with a detachment of F-35B fighter jets, so it still has a hefty presence. Further, it is without a doubt possible for the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and its CSG to operate without issue in the Middle East, be it Syria, Iraq or elsewhere, from its current place of deployment.
In Syria itself, as the primary US competitor, alongside Iran, Russian forces are preparing to set up a permanent military base near the city of Palmyra in the Badia Desert. This is not yet confirmed, but according to satellite photos it has a helipad as a runway.
This base is likely planned to support the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) further in their push against both ISIS and Turkish proxies.
On March 9th, the SAA carried out heavy shelling on the positions of Turkish proxies in the village of Jabal Al-Zawiya, in southern Idlib.
Separately, Pro-Turkey opposition factions reportedly thwarted an attempt by the SAA to advance on the Qalaat front in the northern countryside of Latakia. Attacks are frequently repelled in Twitter posts, but nowhere else, demonstrating that the propaganda wing of the Turkish proxies is quite active.
In the days leading up to this, the SAA has been preparing for a large push in the province of Aleppo.
This is likely an attempt to form a uniform front, which can exert equal pressure along the frontline and thin the enemy’s forces to provide opportunity for a breach.
Turkey and its proxies are sure to offer heavy resistance to any advance by the SAA, but so far it appears that this may not be enough.