The U.S. Navy has moved the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole and other ships to the eastern Mediterranean Sea off Lebanon, Pentagon officials said Thursday.Read it here.
The deployment comes amid a political standoff over Lebanon's presidency, but the Navy would not say whether the events are linked.
"It's a group of ships that will operate in the vicinity for a while and as the ships in our Navy do, the presence is important," Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday.
"It isn't meant to send any stronger signal than that," he said. "But it does signal that we're engaged and we are going to be in the vicinity, and that's a very important part of the world."....
The destroyer and two support ships are close to Lebanon but out of visual range of the coast, Pentagon officials said. Another six vessels, led by the amphibious assault ship USS Nassau, are close to Italy and steaming toward the other three, the officials said.
[A] Bush administration official told CNN the decision to move ships to the region was a message to neighboring Syria that "the U.S. is concerned about the situation in Lebanon, and we want to see the situation resolved."
"We are sending a clear message for the need for stability," said the official, who was not authorized to speak for publication. The ships "should be there a while," the official added.
This is an encouraging sign. The willingness of the US [with French support] to deploy significant military resources outside Iraq and Afghanistan is a good indication that [despite election year rhetoric to the contrary] the conflicts in those places are winding down.