Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen today directed a number of deployments that will further increase U.S. support to NATO Operation Allied Force over Yugoslavia while maintaining carrier-based air support for operations in Southwest Asia over Iraq. The deployments also take into account the long-standing U.S. military commitment in the western Pacific.
Cohen ordered the USS Theodore Roosevelt battle group to remain in the Mediterranean and support Operation Allied Force. In addition to the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the battle group includes the guided missile cruisers USS Leyte Gulf and USS Vella Gulf; the guided missile destroyer USS Ross; the guided missile frigate USS Halyburton; the fast combat support ship USS Arctic; and the attack submarine USS Albuquerque.
The Theodore Roosevelt battle group, which arrived in the Mediterranean April 3, was originally slated to deploy directly to the Persian Gulf to relieve the USS Enterprise battle group. Cohen ordered the USS Kitty Hawk battle group, based in Yokosuka, Japan, to relieve the Enterprise battle group so it can return to the United States on schedule in May.
To maintain the U.S. commitment in the western Pacific, Cohen ordered one F-15E fighter squadron, a carrier battle group, B-52s and EA-6Bs to remain poised in the United States, ready to deploy on short notice, if necessary. Also, two Air Force AC-130 gunships, presently deployed to Korea, will remain on station.
Carrier battle groups are an integral part of the United States policy of maintaining a substantial overseas military presence to promote regional stability, reaffirm commitments and contribute to deterrence.