In a rare move intended to facilitate the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier is expected to be redeployed from the Asia-Pacific region to the Middle East, Voice of America reports.
US President Joe Biden announced in April that American troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by September 11: the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier will be needed in the Middle East to provide additional air support during the withdrawal.
The USS Ronald Reagan is normally based in Yokosuka, Japan, and is the only US aircraft carrier in the Asia-Pacific region, VOA said. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was expected to approve the ship’s move to the Middle East on Thursday.
According to VOA, the Asia-Pacific region will likely remain without a US aircraft carrier for at least part of the USS Ronald Reagan’s redeployment.
While the Pentagon has not confirmed the redeployment because it does not comment on the movement of ships in advance, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters: “The only thing I would add is … the [Defense] secretary wants to make sure that General (Austin “Scott”) Miller has the right options at his disposal to make sure that the withdrawal from Afghanistan is done in a safe, orderly and deliberate way.”