The Navy and Air Force spent the weekend conducting simulated strikes on Iran's doorstep

news
USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and US Air Force Flex On ...

The U.S. Navy carrier strike group and U.S. Air Force bombers deployed to the Middle East to counter Iran conducted simulated strike drills near Iran this weekend as tensions between Washington and Tehran remain high.

The U.S. began deploying numerous troops and military assets to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility last month in response to intelligence indicating that Iran was plotting attacks on U.S. interests in the region.


The exact nature of the threat posed by Iran and its proxies is unclear, although Vice Adm. Michael Gilday recently told reporters at the Pentagon that the Iranian leadership has repeatedly made threats backed up by changes in their force posture.

Furthermore, there have been a string of attacks in recent weeks — including attacks on tankers in UAE waters, a drone strike on a Saudi pipeline, and a rocket attack in the Green Zone in Iraq — that have reinforced the U.S. military's view that Iran is involved in or plotting nefarious activities.

The exercises conducted Saturday involved F/A-18E Super Hornets, E-2D Growlers and other air assets from Carrier Air Wing 7 attached to the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and B-52H Stratofortress heavy, long-range bombers.

A bomber with fighter escorts fly above the USS Abraham Lincoln(U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Wilbur)

The drills included air-to-air training, formation flying, close air support exercises, strike coordination and reconnaissance training, and simulated strike operations.

B-52H Stratofortress bomber escorted by F/A-18E Super Hornets.(U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Wilbur)

"Our land, air, and maritime assets are even stronger and more effective when integrated together," Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, Combined Forces Air Component Commander, said in a statement. "We are postured to face any threats toward US forces in this region."

Bombers and fighters supported by an early warning aircraft fly above the USS Abraham Lincoln.(U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amber Smalley)

"The training the air wing conducted with the B-52's today is an incredible demonstration of how our military can rapidly join capabilities to enhance our lethality and our ability to respond to any threat when called upon," Capt. William Reed, Carrier Air Wing 7 commander, explained.

Fighters and bombers fly over the Arabian Sea during combined arms exercises(U.S. Navy/Lt. Brad Kerr)

The U.S. military has deployed a U.S. carrier strike group consisting of a carrier, several destroyers and a cruiser, a bomber task force, an amphibious assault vessel, a Patriot air-and-missile defense battery, fighter jets, and hundreds of additional troops to the Middle East to deter Iran.

F/A-18E Super Hornet on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln(U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matt Herbst)

Read more from Business Insider:

SEE ALSO: The Pentagon Is Using The Same Old Vietnam Playbook For Dealing With Iran

WATCH NEXT: Gen. Petraeus On Shia Militias And Iran

Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) will announce legislation Wednesday aiming to "fix" a new Trump administration citizenship policy that affects some children of U.S. service members stationed abroad.

Read More Show Less

The video opens innocently enough. A bell sounds as we gaze onto a U.S. Navy frigate, safely docked at port at Naval Base San Diego. A cadre of sailors, dressed in "crackerjack" style enlisted dress uniforms and hauling duffel bags over their shoulders, stride up a gangplank aboard the vessel. The officer on deck greets them with a blast of a boatswain's call. It could be the opening scene of a recruitment video for the greatest naval force on the planet.

Then the rhythmic clapping begins.

This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.

"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."

Read More Show Less

Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.

In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.

"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."



Well, I feel better. How about you?

On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.

"We do not know where they are," James Jeffrey told members of Congress of the 100+ escaped detainees. ISIS has about 18,000 "members" left in Iraq and Syria, according to recent Pentagon estimates.

A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."

"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.

President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.

"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."

The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."

Trump said that "small number of U.S. troops" would remain in Syria to protect oilfields.


Kade Kurita (U.S. Army photo(

Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.

"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.

Read More Show Less

Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The U.S. Army's Next Generation Squad Weapon effort looked a lot more possible this week as the three competing weapons firms displayed their prototype 6.8mm rifles and automatic rifles at the 2019 Association of the United States Army's annual meeting.

Just two months ago, the Army selected General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems inc., Textron Systems and Sig Sauer Inc. for the final phase of the NGSW effort — one of the service's top modernization priorities to replace the 5.56mm M4A1 carbine and the M249 squad automatic weapon in infantry and other close-combat units.

Army officials, as well as the companies in competition, have been guarded about specific details, but the end result will equip combat squads with weapons that fire a specially designed 6.8mm projectile, capable of penetrating enemy body armor at ranges well beyond the current M855A1 5.56mm round.

There have previously been glimpses of weapons from two firms, but this year's AUSA was the first time all three competitors displayed their prototype weapons, which are distinctly different from one another.

Read More Show Less