The Pentagon has reportedly selected about 2,000 troops to prepare for a deployment to help Israel as a second carrier strike group steams for the eastern Mediterranean.
Officials said the troops will not serve in a combat role but would be tasked with medical support or advisory duties.
Details emerged on Monday after the Department of Defense said the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower strike group, which deployed from Norfolk, Virginia, on Friday, is on its way.
She will join the USS Gerald R. Ford, which arrived off the coast of Israel last week.
The presence of two of the Navy’s most powerful warships will send a clear signal to Iran and its regional proxies, such as Hezbollah, not to escalate the conflict.
It comes as Israel continues to mass troops and military hardware around the Gaza Strip, from where Hamas gunmen launched a surprise assault on Israel, killing at least 1,300 people.
Officials cited by the Wall Street Journal also said some 2,000 troops were being prepared to deploy in a sign that Washington was ready to assist Israeli troops in the event of a ground invasion of Gaza.
President Joe Biden abandoned plans to travel to Colorado to deliver a speech on ‘Bidenomics’ on Monday.
Instead he huddled with key national security officials.
‘This morning, President Biden and Vice President Harris were briefed by their national security team on the latest updates in the wake of Hamas’s abhorrent attack in Israel and the resulting conflict in Gaza,’ said a White House official.
‘Chief of Staff Jeff Zients joined the briefing led by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Bill Burns.’
Western leaders have lined up to urge Israel to follow international law and not trigger a wider regional conflagration.
Iran told Israel via the United Nations it would intervene if operations in Gaza continued, a report claimed, as Israel readied a ‘wide range of offensive operational plans’ including a ‘joint and coordinated attack [on Gaza] from the air, sea and land.’
Diplomatic sources told Axios that while Iran did not want the conflict to escalate, it was prepared to intervene either directly or indirectly, such as via a military group in Syria or Lebanon.
Schools in Lebanon remain closed amid fears of Israeli missiles targeting Hezbollah militants near the border. While Hezbollah has not formally joined the war, the group has clashed with Israeli forces several times this week.
Israel has called up 360,000 reservists as it prepares for its next move.
Against that backdrop, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced late Saturday that the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower was on its way.
‘The increases to U.S. force posture signal the United States’ ironclad commitment to Israel’s security and our resolve to deter any state or non-state actor seeking to escalate this war,’ he said.
On Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken was meeting with the Israeli ‘war cabinet’ in Tel Aviv.