Two weeks ago, on November 5, and one week before the Paris terrorist attack, we reported that somewhat unexpectedly, France had dispatched its only aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, to "the eastern Mediterranean for operations against Isis in both Syria and Iraq."
It was unclear just what these pre-emptive operations would be and why France is getting so dramatically involved in the campaign against ISIS. Not knowing the dramatic attack that was about to unfold (whose false flag origins have been quickly ignored as nobody has yet explained why a fake Syrian passport was found next to the suicide bomber), we speculated that this move had to do with the departure of the CVN-71 Theodore Roosevelt which had left the Persian Gulf region a month ago, leaving the entire 5th Naval Fleet without a US carrier presence for the first time in a decade.
One week later, we found out that Paris may have had an advance hint of what was about to unfold when on the night of Friday 13 it all fell into place.
But with the French aircraft carrier full steam ahead toward the Syrian coast, the US could not afford to leave the airborne defense of the region to the French, so it did what was just a matter of time: it weighed anchor on the CVN-75, Harry Truman which was deployed toward the Middle East where according to the Daily Press it will "fight the Islamic State."
According to the Press, "the Truman is expected to reach the Persian Gulf before the year’s end. The U.S. has been launching air strikes into Iraq and Syria from aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf — at least until last month, when the USS Theodore Roosevelt left the area after an extended deployment. The two-month gap is the first in nearly a decade that the U.S. has had no carrier in the region."
While the Truman’s departure date was set more than a year ago, it came about six months earlier than first planned. In October 2014, it was announced that the ship would switch deployment cycles with the Norfolk-based USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, which required an additional 10 months in the shipyard.
As the Navy Times reports, "there were no immediate changes to deployment orders as a result of Friday's terror attacks, but there is great resolve among the sailors to support their French allies, said Capt. Ryan Scholl, Truman's skipper. Scholl said his crew is ready to bring peace or "violent destruction."
Something tells us it will be the latter.
Once again, here is the ETA: Carrier Theodore Roosevelt left 5th Fleet in mid-October, leaving that region without a carrier until the Truman CSG gets there, which should be about six weeks, or just around the New Year.
Then again, according to the latest Stratfor naval map, the Truman is already approaching Gibraltar. If accurate, it means the carrier will be next to Syria in a couple of weeks tops.
Scholl offered assurance to coalition and U.S. forces still in the fight across Syria and Iraq as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.
"The Harry S. Truman battle group will be there in due time and execute our mission successfully," he said. "We hope that brings some peace of mind to the people that are out there, both our coalition partners as well as our troops on the ground, and it brings a hard-to-swallow, deliberate pause in our enemy."
Where things get very interesting is what the Navy Times says next:
ISIS is not the only challenge that awaits the flotilla, which includes the cruiser Anzio, Carrier Wing Air 7, and destroyers Bulkeley, Gravely and Gonzalez. Russian, Chinese and Iranian marines have established their presence in Syria, and Russian warships from the Black Sea have relocated to the eastern Mediterranean to protect fighter jets conducting airstrikes in support of Syria's Assad regime. In preparation, the strike group's Composite Training Unit Exercise focused on adversaries that more closely resembled those of the Cold War.
Russians and Iranians we knew about, but Chinese? Does the US Navy know something that has not been made public previously?
While we await the answer, what we do know is that suddenly the east Mediterranean is about to become a warship and aircraft carrier parking lot, with the Truman and de Gaulle side by side, just as we predicted it would be a month ago when we said that the summer of 2013 naval scenario is unfolding once again.
Then there are the Russians. Here's the latest from Tass:
Ten ships of the Russian Navy are involved in the anti-terrorism operation in Syria, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin on Friday.
"The naval group comprises ten ships, six of them are in the Mediterranean," the minister said.
Shoigu said the Caspian Flotilla warships on Friday launched 18 cruise missiles at terrorist positions in Syria hitting seven targets.
"On November 20, the Caspian Flotilla warships launched 18 cruise missiles at seven targets in the Raqqa, Idlib and Aleppo provinces of Syria. All the targets were hit," Shoigu said.
As we said: busy, and it's only going to get busier.
But the punchline is Russia is already treating the Syrian coastline as its own playground, and has imposed explicit no fly zones in the eastern Mediterranean as the following tweet reveals:
??? ????????? ???? ??-?? "Russian Navy exercise" ????????? 14–23 ??????, 21–23 ?????? ? 24–26 ?????? ??????????????. pic.twitter.com/Pi3qwpw1wB— Ilya A. = ???? ?. (@ain92ru) November 20, 2015
What happens when both the French and the US navies, both packing dozens of airplanes, arrive and convert the Mediterranean off the Syrian coast into one big warship parking lot.
We can only hope that the sudden confluence of goodwill and best intentions by the superpowers to crush ISIS is genuine instead of merely a ploy to get everyone in the same place and result in the biggest ever Gulf of Tonkin redux and an "accidental" sinking of one or more ships... with or without a fake Syrian passport planted next to it.