After about two months of the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier sitting off Syria’s coast to support ground operations against ISIS, the USS Nimitz has arrived in the Persian Gulf to hammer whatever is left of the terror group.
“For the Nimitz Strike Group, today is game day,” said Rear Adm. Bill Byrne, commander of Nimitz’s carrier strike group said in a US Navy statement sent to Business Insider. “When you hear the roar of the jets today it is for real; it’s game on.”
The Nimitz and its accompanying carrier strike group, which the US Naval Institute reports includes a guided-missile cruiser and four destroyers, will support the US-led effort to eliminate ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Though ISIS continues to coordinate attacks abroad, the terror group has suffered incredible defeats in the territory it once declared as its “caliphate.” In Iraq, ISIS’s foundational city, Mosul, has been liberated by Iraqi security forces with the help of carrier-launched aircraft.
In Syria, more than half of ISIS’s last remaining stronghold, Raqqa, has been liberated. In late July, Army Gen. Raymond Thomas, head of US Special Operations Command, said that the US-led fight against ISIS had killed 60,000 to 70,000 militants.
“The enemy is very worn out,” Maj. Gen. Najm al-Jabouri of the Iraqi Security Forces told Reuters on Monday. “I know from the intelligence reports that their morale is low,” the general added.
Meanwhile, a fresh carrier air wing aboard the Nimitz began operations against ISIS on Monday as US-backed forces on the ground continue to make progress.
However, the F-18 squadrons aboard the Nimitz face an increased risk, as the pilots aboard the George H.W. Bush saw the first air-to-air combat since 1999 after the US witnessed Syrian jets bombed US-backed forces.