Whenever the United States wants to let bad guys know that now is not the time to test us, nothing gets the message across better than having two aircraft carriers operate in a region simultaneously.

The Navy sent that message on Friday by releasing pictures of USS Gerald R. Ford and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower operating in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Both flat tops along with their embarked air wings and the other ships in their strike groups had conducted joint exercises over the past three days along with USS Mount Whitney, the command ship for the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet, and two Italian frigates, a Navy news release says. More than 11,000 U.S. service members took part in the exercises.

This show of force comes as Israel is fighting Hamas while trading fire with Hezbollah. Meanwhile, Iranian-backed groups have carried out at least 28 drone and rocket attacks on American forces in Iraq and Syria since Oct. 17, according to the Pentagon.

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“Operating and training alongside each other demonstrates the U.S. Navy’s ability to seamlessly accomplish multiple missions, deter aggression and support our allies and partners,” Navy Rear Adm. Rear Adm. Erik Eslich, commander of Carrier Strike Group 12, said in a statement.

This is far from the first time that the United States has sent two carriers to the same region. In 2019, USS Abraham Lincoln and USS John C. Stennis both operated in the Mediterranean Sea as a not-so-subtle warning to Russia. It marked the first time in three years that two carriers had been in the region.

John Huntsman, who was serving as the U.S. ambassador to Russia at the time, made very clear why the two carriers were there when he spoke aboard the Lincoln.

“Each of the carriers operating in the Mediterranean at this time represent 100,000 tons of international diplomacy,” Huntsman said at the time. “Diplomatic communication and dialogue coupled with the strong defense these ships provide demonstrate to Russia that if it truly seeks better relations with the United States, it must cease its destabilizing activities around the world.”

The U.S. also dispatched the Eisenhower and USS Harry S. Truman to the U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, theater of operations in 2012 and 2020 as a warning to Iran.

Also that year, the United States sent the USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Nimitz to the South China Sea while the USS Ronald Reagan operated in the Philippine Sea, adding an exclamation point to the message to China.

By sending the Ford – America’s newest aircraft carrier that cost more than $13 billion to build – along with the Eisenhower to the Eastern Mediterranean, the U.S. government is letting Hezbollah, Iran, and other adversaries in the Middle East know that they will have a very bad day if they try to widen the war between Israel and Hamas.

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