Despite John Bolton’s Statement, the US Has Not Escalated Its Forces in the CENTCOM Area of Responsibility

(The USS Kearsarge sinks the CSS Alabama off the coast of Cherbourg, France)

Earlier this evening, Assistant to the President-National Security Advisor (APNSA or NSA) John Bolton issued the following statement:

So what exactly is actually going on with US Naval deployments in the US Central Command (CENTCOM) Area of Responsibility (AOR)? Fortunately, the US Naval Institute has a Fleet Tracker. The most recent update is from 22 April 2019, it tells us the following:

Carrier Strike Group 12 (USS Abraham Lincoln/CVN 72, Carrier Air Wing 7/CVW 7, Destroyer Squadron 2/DESRON 2, and USS Leyte Gulf/CG 55):

deployed from Norfolk on April 1 and is now operating in the 6th Fleet area of responsibility in the central Mediterranean Sea. Last week, the CSG stopped in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, on April 15 and departed April 20.

They join the USS John C Stennis Carrier Strike Group (USS John C Stennis/CVN 74, Carrier Air Wing 9/CVW 9, Destroyer Squadron 21/DESRON 21, and USS Mobile Bay/CG 53), which:

transited the Suez Canal on April 20 and is now in the Mediterranean Sea in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations. Last week, the CSG exercised operations with French Navy aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle (R 91) in the Red Sea.

Finally, the Kearsarge Amphibious Group – USS Kearsarge/LHD 3 with the embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), Fleet Surgical Teams 2 and 8, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26, and Tactical Air Control Squadron 21; USS Arlington/LPD 24 (amphibious landing dock); and USS Fort McHenry/LSD 43 (dock landing ship) is in the Persian Gulf.

Despite Bolton’s statement there is no additional Naval or Amphibious deployment. The Abraham Lincoln and the other vessels and units in its carrier group where already in the CENTCOM AOR and have been for some time. Almost as important is this simple reality: the Iranians know this! They know where US forces are deployed in relation to Iran. All Bolton has done with this announcement is make a lot of noise to hear himself make a lot of noise.

Thank you for joining us for this special first Sunday in May edition of John Bolton’s mustache’s saber rattling kabuki theater.

Open thread!

* There is not, unfortunately, a similar tracker for US bomber task forces, but I expect the bomber task force was already either on station or scheduled for deployment to CENTCOM’s AOR.






62 replies
  1. 1
    cmorenc says:

    Maybe we should allow John Bolton to go to war with Iran – as a lieutenant in the first-wave front-line infantry assault brigade attacking Tehran. Show us how it’s done to kick Iran’s ass, John. If you’re going to talk the talk, let’s see you walk the walk, not just fluster the bluster.

    I’ll bet John would be so gung-whoa! about that proposition.

  2. 2
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @cmorenc: He joined the MD National Guard so he wouldn’t have to fight in Vietnam, despite supporting the Vietnam War. So I don’t expect he’d be any more willing to fight now than he was when he was a college student.

  3. 3
    opiejeanne says:

    Good post, Adam.

    Who is the artist of the battle at sea?

  4. 4
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @cmorenc: he can lead the Light Brigade

  5. 5
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    He joined the MD National Guard so he wouldn’t have to fight in Vietnam, despite supporting the Vietnam War so that others would have to.

    Completed the sentence for you.

  6. 6
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @opiejeanne: That’s the famous painting from the FDR library. It was painted by Xanthus Smith who did six different paintings of the battle.

  7. 7
    Mike in NC says:

    My ship deployed to the Persian Gulf in the summer of 1984 and were overflown by Iranian P-3s on pretty much a daily basis. The Rules of Engagement were understood to be a joke.

  8. 8
    plato says:

    Mebbe bolton is jonesing for that long vacant secdef post.

  9. 9
    HumboldtBlue says:

    As a young Yankee DelMarVa boy I used to fume and spit at the first two volumes of Catton’s work.

    Always losing. Retreating.

    Got those fuckers in the end though.

    Capt. Winslow and men did well that day.

  10. 10
    mad citizen says:

    I wonder if anyone has ever called him John Dolton to his face?

  11. 11
    Harbison says:

    @cmorenc:

    He’d be at least a major, given his level of incompetence.

  12. 12

    If you are on Twitter and want to follow this and more about ship movements, follow Steffan Watkins.

    He agrees with Adam. NBD.

  13. 13
    a thousand flouncing lurkers was fidelio says:

    One of the high points, for me, of Election Night 2008, was watching Simon Schama deliver a beat-down to Bolton on BBCAmerica. Bolton clearly expected the presenters to intervene and save him, but they just sat and giggled while Schama took him apart. At one point Bolton suggested that Schama wasn’t tough enough to, as it were, put up his dukes & fight—and Schama offered to adjourn to the parking lot.
    It didn’t happen. It must have dawned on Bolton he might lose.

  14. 14
    cmorenc says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    @cmorenc: He joined the MD National Guard so he wouldn’t have to fight in Vietnam, despite supporting the Vietnam War. So I don’t expect he’d be any more willing to fight now than he was when he was a college student.

    Gee, ya think? :=)

    Of course Bolton would bolt from actually having to put his own ass on the line in combat.

  15. 15
    Another Scott says:

    Meanwhile…:

    Iran Gov Website @Iran_GOV

    Experts from #Iran’s foreign ministry and the foreign ministries of #Britain, #Germany, #France, #China and #Russia will hold a #JCPOA meeting in Brussels on Tuesday.

    9:50 AM – 5 May 2019

    It looks like the world is continuing to move on and ignore Donnie’s (and Johnnie’s) protestations.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  16. 16
    a thousand flouncing lurkers was fidelio says:

    Awaiting moderation? Seriously?

  17. 17
    NotMax says:

    History repeats itself, the first time as Baghdadegy, the second time as Farsi?

  18. 18
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @a thousand flouncing lurkers was fidelio: I already freed you.

  19. 19
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Another Scott: And now we know why Bolton made his announcement.

  20. 20
    The Dangerman says:

    All Bolton has done with this announcement is make a lot of noise to hear himself make a lot of noise.

    Playing Battleship with him must suck given all his jerking off going on.

  21. 21
    MomSense says:

    Do I even want to know why Bolton is pulling this stunt?

  22. 22
    MomSense says:

    @Another Scott: @MomSense:

    And there it is.

  23. 23
    texasdoc says:

    There’s a really good article about John Bolton in this week’s New Yorker. As you may recall, Bush Jr. nominated him to be US ambassador to the UN. His nomination was not advanced by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee because of concerns even among Republicans on the committee. The notable part is from Tony Blinken, who was the staff director for the senate committee, who told the author of the article that members began to reconsider as they examined Bolton’s previous work in the State Department. “We saw a pattern of Mr. Bolton trying to manipulate intelligence to justify his views. If it had happened once, maybe. But it came up multiple times and always it was the same underlying issue: he would stake out a position, and then if the intelligence didn’t support it, he would try to exaggerate the intelligence and marginalize the officials who had produced it.” Bolton became UN ambassador through a “recess appointment”.

  24. 24
    Brachiator says:

    All Bolton has done with this announcement is make a lot of noise to hear himself make a lot of noise.

    I understand a bellicose president. I could see Trump making all kinds of noise to excite the rubes.

    But what game is Bolton playing?

  25. 25
    texasdoc says:

    There’s a really good article about John Bolton in this week’s New Yorker. As you may recall, Bush Jr. nominated him to be US ambassador to the UN. His nomination was not advanced by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee because of concerns event among Republicans on the committee. The notable part is from Tony Blinken, who was the staff director for the senate committee, who told the author of the article that members began to reconsider as they examined Bolton’s previous work in the State Department. “We saw a pattern of Mr. Bolton trying to manipulate intelligence to justify his views. If it had happened once, maybe. But it came up multiple times and always it was the same underlying issue: he would stake out a position, and then if the intelligence didn’t support it, he would try to exaggerate the intelligence and marginalize the officials who had produced it.” Bolton became UN ambassador through a “recess appointment”.

  26. 26
    rikyrah says:

    Thanks Silverman for this post

  27. 27

    I sort of assumed this was the case. Thanks for this!

  28. 28
    Harbison says:

    @The Dangerman:

    Well, wait, how do you play Battleship, again?

  29. 29
    a thousand flouncing lurkers was fidelio says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Thanks!

  30. 30
    opiejeanne says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Thank you. I thought at first glance it was a different sea battle painting that I first saw when I was 8. or 9. My parents gave me a history book for Christmas that, after recovering from my disbelief that the present was a history book, I absolutely adored. The historic paintings included in it are wonderful and it didn’t talk down to the intended readers. Instead it assumed that we were reasonably bright and would be able to understand and follow things like the “dance” of two ships engaged in a Naval battle, or that we wouldn’t be too shocked by a painting of a topless NA swinging from the branch of a tree. I’m not at home and won’t be until Saturday or Sunday, and I’ll look up the page with the description of the movements of the two ships in battle then.

  31. 31
    Mike J says:

    US carriers have a much longer record of unprovoked attacks on Iran than the other way around. No Airbus ever shot down a US ship.

  32. 32
    Leto says:

    There is not, unfortunately, a similar tracker for US bomber task forces, but I expect the bomber task force was already either on station or scheduled for deployment to CENTCOM’s AOR.

    The USAF doesn’t publicly publish their AEF deployment rotations, but commanders definitely know them ahead of time. I don’t know why the Navy does it, but sure.

    @Mike J:

    No Airbus ever shot down a US ship.

    I wasn’t aware the US had helicarriers… ;)

  33. 33
    Jay says:

    @Leto:

    You can track USN ships real time via ship tracker, just like all other ships.

    You can do the same with a lot of military aviation.

    The purpose is to prevent collisions, but it doesn’t always work.

  34. 34

    @Leto:

    I wasn’t aware the US had helicarriers… ;)

    It’s classified.

  35. 35
    Jay says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    This announcement also paints another big target on US Forces, in what should be a “normal” deployment.

    The ReThug’s arn’t goona quit until they get a bunch of ‘Merkins killed.

  36. 36
    Jay says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA:

    Was classified, Marvel leaked.

  37. 37
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷 says:

    Gotta love the use of “regime” instead of “government”. Very petty of Bolton and par for the course for a Republican. It’s been 40 fucking years and they still won’t let it go. Also, fuck Bolton for threatening the ICC with sanctions, too.

  38. 38

    We don’t want to fight but by Jingo if we do,
    We’ve got the ships, we’ve got the men, we’ve got the money too!

    Ahh, there’s nothing like the classics.

  39. 39

    @Jay: Who’s Marvel? They should probably retain a good lawyer specializing in National Security matters.

  40. 40

    @John Revolta: The Trump doctrine is if you have the hardware, you need to use it.

  41. 41
    Jay says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA:

    Marvel is a division of the Facist Mouse Inc,

    Their lawyers are the best, and are better funded than the US Gov.

    The Mouse also owns all the Star Wars and Trek patents.

  42. 42
    darwinsjoke says:

    Kearsarge is LHD-3, it was my last ship.

  43. 43
    CapnMubbers says:

    I don’t see Bolton’s comment—tried refreshing, still can’t. Adam’s citations appear to refute a belligerent stance on Bolton’s part.

    Final post some years ago by Vixen Strangely at the late lamented RumpRoast: “John Bolton is a Bloodthirsty Loon.” That was accurate then, hasn’t changed.

  44. 44
    NotMax says:

    @Jay

    Star Trek ownership is split between Paramount and CBS.

  45. 45
    Jay says:

    @CapnMubbers:

    https://www.google.ca/amp/s/www.bbc.com/news/amp/world-us-canada-48173357

    Bolton’s “tagging” a normal USN deployment/rotation to the Arabia Sea and Persian Gulf as being a warning/threat against Iran.

  46. 46
    Jay says:

    @NotMax:

    Ahhhhh, that’s why my flip phone still works,…….

  47. 47
    CapnMubbers says:

    @Jay: Thanks.

  48. 48
    Redshift says:

    @CapnMubbers: Yep. Pretty clear that Bolton is saber-rattling in hopes that someone will make a mistake and start the way with Iran he desperately wants, but that he can’t come up with any rationale for beyond “Iran is evil, don’t you get it?”. Asshole.

  49. 49
  50. 50
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @darwinsjoke: Thanks for catching that. My fault while trying to type this up quickly. I elided LHD 3 into the 22nd MEU and wound up with LH 22. I’ve fixed it.

  51. 51

    @Jay: I’m from Glendale, we know the mouse.

  52. 52
    Origuy says:

    @opiejeanne: The Wikipedia entry for the USS Kearsarge (the Civil War one) describes the Battle of Cherbourg as “Steaming on opposite courses, the ships moved in seven spiraling circles on a southwesterly course, as each commander tried to cross his opponent’s bow to deliver deadly raking fire.” A dance indeed.

  53. 53
  54. 54

    @Jay: Mouse is good, mouse is our friend.

  55. 55
    plato says:

    Man is the worst animal.

    The world’s most comprehensive, and damning, report on the state of nature will be released on Monday in Paris.

    The UN’s Global Assessment will highlight the distressing impact that humanity is having on the natural world.

    It will probably state that species are being lost at the fastest ever rate, mainly driven by the changing use of land.

    This study will underline just how much humanity relies on the natural world, whether it is for food, clean water, or to absorb the warming CO2 gas that’s driving climate change.

    It is expected to show, in grim detail, how humans have trampled all over the natural world over the past 50 years – and what is likely to happen over the coming decades unless major changes are implemented.

  56. 56
    CliosFanboy says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: Mickey is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful mouse I’ve ever known in my life.

  57. 57
    Another Scott says:

    @Redshift: According to Google News last night, there are headlines from the usual RWNJ news outlets (e.g. WashingtonExaminer) saying that there were clouds and shadows (TM FTFNYT) indicating that Iran was planning some sort of attack. I didn’t click on them.

    I do think Bolton’s tweet has more to do with the JCPOA meeting on Tuesday.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  58. 58
    low-tech cyclist says:

    Despite Bolton’s statement there is no additional Naval or Amphibious deployment. The Abraham Lincoln and the other vessels and units in its carrier group where already in the CENTCOM AOR and have been for some time. Almost as important is this simple reality: the Iranians know this! They know where US forces are deployed in relation to Iran. All Bolton has done with this announcement is make a lot of noise to hear himself make a lot of noise.

    Maybe he can issue memos each week stating that there will be no parade this Sunday.

  59. 59
    The Pale Scot says:

    What is a Bomber Task Force? B-52’s, B-1 and B-2s are all based in the continental US.

  60. 60
    chris says:

    Thanks, Adam.

  61. 61
    Miss Bianca says:

    @a thousand flouncing lurkers was fidelio: Simon Schama? The guy who wrote that reactionary history of the French Revolution? Gotta say, my level of respect for him just rose.

  62. 62
    brantl says:

    All Bolton has done with this announcement is make a lot of noise to hear himself make a lot of noise.

    This is the only reason John Bolton draws breath, respiration is only incidental to him mouthing off.

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