I thought these exercises had been planned for awhile. Tain’t so, according to the brass.

The U.S. Navy is offering a huge show of military might near the location where Iran seized 15 British sailors and marines five days ago, in what is seen as a clear effort to send a message to Iran, a senior military official told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz in Bahrain.

Twelve ships, 100 aircraft and 12,000 sailors are taking part in the war games designed to get the attention of Iran.

The naval exercise went on all day today and will continue Wednesday, with F-18 fighter jets roaring from the deck of both aircraft carriers in the first appearance of two U.S. carriers in the Gulf simultaneously since 2003.

U.S. naval officials in Bahrain told ABC News that the operation was hastily planned after the 15 Britons were seized Friday, yet the Bush administration would not say publicly that this is the case.

Debka says it was moved up a few days, and that they’re putting on quite a show. On the other hand, look who I’m citing here. Ahem:

Intelligence sources in Moscow claim to have information that a US strike against Iranian nuclear installations has been scheduled for April 6 at 0040 hours. The Russian sources say the US operation, code-named “Bite,” will last no more than 12 hours and consist of missile and aerial strikes devastating enough to set Tehran’s nuclear program several years back.

Update: The Bataan is there too, and the Boxer is in the neighborhood.

Update: An enticing morsel buried in this Telegraph piece about the female Marine being held by Iran: “The Daily Telegraph has learned that a special tracking device showed that their exact location was ‘nowhere near’ Iranian territorial waters.”

Update: Meanwhile in Tehran… Click the image to watch.

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