The White House announced in a statement on Monday night that US intelligence services had spotted Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government potentially preparing for another chemical attack.
“As we have previously stated, the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” the statement said. “If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price.”
With the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier and its accompanying strike group in the Mediterranean; US Air Force presences in Qatar, Jordan, and Turkey; and forces on the ground, the US has a multitude of options for carrying out a strike in Syria, despite a heavy Russian presence and advanced missile defenses.
Take a look at the US’s firepower in the region:
Here’s the USS George H.W. Bush, complete with aircraft for logistics, air-to-air, air-to-ground, intelligence and surveillance, early-warning, and antisubmarine warfare.
Here’s a loaded F/A-18E. This one has an air-to-ground heavy load out but still carries air-to-air missiles in case an enemy aircraft attacks the US or US-backed forces, as was the case when an F/A-18E had to shoot down a Syrian Su-22.
The crew can launch one of these every two minutes or so. F/A-18Es off the Bush have flown over 4,000 sorties against ISIS since the start of the campaign.
But US aircraft carriers don’t roll alone. Here it’s resupplying from the USNS Supply.
Cruisers like the USS Hue City keep watch and provide missile defense for the aircraft carriers.
Each cruiser contributes dozens of cruise missiles, which the US used on April 7 after intelligence showed that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces used chemical weapons on civilians.
Here, a gunner keeps watch on the USS Truxtun, another guided-missile destroyer keeping the Bush safe.
Moving on to air power: The US has tried-and-tested platforms like F-16s and A-10s at Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base …
… and heavy, nuclear-capable bombers at Qatar’s Al Udeid Air Base.
Additionally, US ground forces in the region aren’t exactly toothless. With high-mobility artillery rockets and howitzers on the ground, the US can do a lot of damage.
It also has squadrons of fighter jets in Jordan.
Another tool exclusive to the US is stealth aircraft. An F-22 Raptor can operate in the most heavily defended airspace in the world or dogfight with Syrian or Russian jets.
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.
And that’s not even counting the rest of the coalition — dozens of countries are contributing firepower and assistance to decimate ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Operation Inherent Resolve