The USS George H.W. Bush is deploying to the Mediterranean to continue the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) where it had last saw action in the region in August 2014 against the terror group with well over 16,000 airstrikes.
As the USS George H.W. Bush and its crew prepare for deployment to the region, they will undoubtedly face a much different Islamic State. Two years ago, ISIS maintained strongholds in Syria and Iraq, with Raqqa (de facto capital of ISIS) and Mosul being its primary bases of operations respectively. ISIS no longer maintains full autonomy in either of these two major cities as the tables have turned and now have the reclusive Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in hiding somewhere in Mosul.
Rear Admiral Kenneth Whitesell, commander of the Carrier Strike Group 2, said:
“The enemy has proven that they have some persistency to them. It doesn’t surprise me that we are going back two and a half years later, we’re going back with increased capabilities, and if we have to go back two years from now (we’ll) go back with all new capabilities that they’re not expecting to see. The environment essentially hasn’t changed since the George Herbert Walker Bush did the first strikes in 2014.”
The USS George H.W. Bush is scheduled to relieve the French aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle, which is currently performing airstrikes against ISIS. Rear Adm. Whitesell said:
“We’ll be coordinating with [the commander of the Charles de Gaulle] on lessons learned on how they conducted operations. We’re in correspondence now on how he is moving his ship and how he is operating his air wing. He speaks the same language I speak when it comes to power projection.”
The USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) is one of the newer carriers in the U.S. fleet that was formally commissioned on January 10,2009 and is the last of “the ten-strong Nimitz class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers to enter service with the U.S. Navy.”
Not all naval vessels in the region will be on America’s side, which is evident by the Russian’s own aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, and naval vessels owned by Iran, who continues to provoke and harass US naval ships in the area; the last encounter resulted in a U.S. Navy patrol boat firing warning shots at an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps naval vessel’s provocation.
The Bush’s commanding officer, Captain Will Pennington, said his crew was trained to take on a wide range of threats from “violent extremists to increasingly capable forces belonging to other nations in the region” as well as “anti-piracy and humanitarian missions.”
Approximately 5,000 men and women aboard the USS George H.W. Bush will be deployed for close to eight months as they take the fight back to ISIS. Training for missions on this deployment continues as the entire crew prepares to ship out around the time when Donald Trump becomes the new commander in chief.