Aircraft supercarrier USS Nimitz and its carrier strike group have been pulled out of the US military’s central command in the Middle East and placed with the Indo-Pacific command that operates in the US Indo-Pacific region and includes the world’s busiest international sea lanes including the South China Sea, the Pentagon has announced.
The US aircraft carrier will be departing the Central Command, “ensuring our national security and deterring conflict in a very critical region of the world”, Pentagon press secretary John F. Kirby said.
The Biden administration has pulled the carrier from the Gulf in a sign of potentially easing tensions with Iran. “These decisions are carefully weighed,” the Pentagon spokesman said, adding,” Supporting Strike Group is a decision driven by a frank assessment of the threats in the area, and also a frank consideration of the capabilities themselves.”
“The secretary (Secretary of Defense Lloyd J Austin III) was mindful of the larger geostrategic picture when he approved the movement of the carrier strike group from the Central Command area of responsibility to the Indo PACOM area of responsibility,” Kirby added.
According to reports, the current US government could increase its presence in the South China Sea region. Last month, the US had moved USS Theodore Roosevelt in the South China Sea region.
China watchers in New Delhi said the Biden administration’s decision indicates that the US could increase its presence around the South China Sea to shore up the confidence of the 36 countries in the Asia Pacific region, many of whom have boundary disputes with Beijing.
The move is seen as the continuation of a tough approach towards China and the US government’s commitment to Taiwan. The former Trump administration had moved Nimitz to the Gulf in November shortly before the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh although the Pentagon had said there was “no specific threats”.
The Pentagon had said earlier that the carrier was stationed in the Gulf to ensure cover for the US troop withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan which was ordered by former President Donald Trump.