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A Marine F-35 Carrier Just Rolled Up In The Middle East Amid Rising Syria Tensions
A U.S. Marine Corps aircraft carrier full of F-35B stealth jets showed up in the Middle East after Russia threatened U.S. forces in Syria in the latest military buildup between the world's two greatest nuclear powers.
Russia sailed a small armada to the Mediterranean sea in August as its prepares with its ally, Syria, an offensive against the last rebel stronghold in the country after predicting a chemical weapons attack that it prematurely blamed on U.S.-aligned forces.
President Donald Trump has warned Syria against its offensive against its own people, and the White House said it "and its Allies will respond swiftly and appropriately" to any reports of chemical weapons use in the fighting.
The U.S. has already bombed Syria's government twice over chemical weapons use, both times avoiding Russian retaliation or air defenses.
The U.S. has a small presence of a couple dozen troops advising rebel forces in Southern Syria, which Russia threatened to attack, CNN reported.
The Essex steps up
Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) transits the Gulf of Aden during a vertical replenishment while on a regularly scheduled deployment of Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).U.S. Navy/Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Freeman
Until recently, the U.S. had no capital ships and just one or two destroyers in the Mediterranean, but the USS Essex, a small, flat-deck aircraft carrier used to launch U.S. Marine Corps F-35B stealth jets that can take off almost vertically, just arrived off the horn of Africa, USNI News reports.
Though the Essex remains on the opposite side of the Suez Canal from Russia's ships in the Mediterranean, it's a quick-moving ship. Additionally, the F-35Bs can fly about 550 miles out from the ship in stealth configurations that make them hard to detect for enemy defenses.
Direct combat between Russia and the U.S. remains unlikely, as both sides work together to avoid accidental conflict and neither side seems willing to escalate a fight over Syria into a massive war.
But Syria has hosted the world's liveliest air defense and battlespace for years. Missile fires have taken down Israeli, Syrian, and Russian jets over the course of the war. Syria has seen the combat debut of the F-35 and the first U.S. air-to-air kill between manned aircraft since 1999.
The F-35Bs aboard the Essex will train on a variety of missions near the Red Sea, such as how to provide close air support for Marine units optimized to take beaches, or how to respond to an attack.
"Our primary mission is crisis response… being current and absolutely ready for anything the geographic combatant commander needs us to do while we are here," Col. Chandler Nelms, commander of the military expeditionary unit aboard the Essex told USNI.
How the U.S. responds to crisis — even when Russia brings it
A Russian-made T-72 main battle tank moments before getting flattened by an MQ-9 Reaper drone strike.Department of Defense
Russia has a larger ground presence in Syria and also operates large groups of mercenaries, but has not fared well in fights against the U.S. so far.
Russia has used military contractors, or unofficial forces, in military operations before as a possible means of concealing the true cost of fighting abroad in places like Ukraine and Syria.
In February, U.S. forces in Syria came under a pro-regime attack made up of hundreds of Iranian, Syrian, and Russian military contractors. A large column advanced towards a U.S. position and began to fire, and the U.S. responded with overwhelming air power and artillery fires that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would later confirm killed hundreds of Russians.
Allegedly leaked audio recordings from the Russian contractors portrayed a humiliated and cowed force that had gone into a battle seriously outgunned, despite its greater numbers.
Russia has since established a stronger naval position in the Mediterranean with ships capable of firing cruise missiles at targets deep inland, and possibly at the U.S. without risking ground forces.
But, as experts previously told Business Insider, if Russia's navy in the Mediterranean actually killed U.S. forces, the U.S. would swiftly scramble its airpower from across the region and sink the fleet as well as destroying any Russian jets that came to respond.
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STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Congress fell short ahead of Memorial Day weekend, failing to pass legislation that would provide tax relief for the families of military personnel killed during their service.
Senators unanimously approved a version of the bipartisan Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act Tuesday sending it back to the House of Representatives, where it was tied to a retirement savings bill as an amendment, and passed Thursday.
When it got back to the Senate, the larger piece of legislation failed to pass and make its way to the President Trump's desk.
Two airmen were administratively punished for drinking at the missile launch control center for 150 nuclear LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, the Air Force confirmed to Task & Purpose on Friday.
Two F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters recently flew a mission in the Middle East in "beast mode," meaning they were loaded up with as much firepower as they could carry.
The F-35s with the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron took off from Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates to execute a mission in support of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Air Forces Central Command revealed. The fifth-generation fighters sacrificed their high-end stealth to fly with a full loadout of weaponry on their wings.
The U.S. Senate closed out the week before Memorial Day by confirming Gen. James McConville as the Army's new chief of staff and Adm. Bill Moran as the Navy's new chief of naval operations.
McConville, previously vice chief of staff of the Army, was confirmed on Thursday along with his successor, Lt Gen. Joseph Marin. Moran, currently vice chief of naval operations, was confirmed Friday along with his successor, Vice Adm. Robert Burke.
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is prohibiting service members who work there from being in the area of a Ku Klux Klan rally scheduled for Saturday in downtown Dayton, Ohio.