The USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, along with a collection of bombers, is on their way to the Middle East to send a “clear an unmistakable message” to Iran, according to National Security Advisor John Bolton. This was a curious way to announce a shift in military deployment (more on that in a moment) but it comes following some unspecified intelligence indicating that Iran was preparing to engage in some hostilities. It’s also happening at the same time that Iranian backed terrorists have been launching hundreds of missiles into Israel. (NY Post)

John Bolton warned on Sunday that the Trump administration would send a “clear and unmistakable message” to Iran as a carrier strike group was traveling to the region amid tensions in Gaza.

President Trump’s National Security Advisor said in a statement that the country was deploying USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the region.

“The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces,” Bolton said in the statement.

We probably don’t need to see the actual intel that was received to believe that Iran was up to something. They have a history of aggressive behavior even in the best of times and President Trump has been beating them up with sanctions and nixing Obama’s nuclear deal, so these are far from being “the best of times.” It’s also long been known that Iran funnels money and weapons to Hezbollah to assist them with attacks on Israel. None of this comes as too much of a shock to anyone who has been paying attention.

What is curious here is that the announcement came from the National Security Advisor. The NSA has no direct role in the chain of command of the military. Normally, an announcement like this would have come from either the President himself or the Department of Defense. Bolton wouldn’t have come out and made such announcement without marching orders from President Trump (or at least I hope he wouldn’t), so we can assume that this was done with the blessings of the White House.

Bolton is no doubt enjoying the role since he’s one of the more hawkish members of the administration, to say the least. He was recently rattling sabers in the direction of Venezuela, suggesting that military intervention there on behalf of Juan Guaido was still being considered. He’s also long been a stern critic of Iran. I’m not sure that having him deliver the message really does any damage, but it’s yet another example of the President’s frequently unconventional approach to policymaking.

The crews of the Abraham Lincoln and her escorts are in for some taxing duty in the days, weeks and probably months to come. Standing guard over Iran is no fun, I can assure you. Back in 1980, I spent nearly 100 days straight sailing in circles on a different aircraft carrier during the Iran hostage crisis without ever touching land. We were on a desolate stretch of empty water in the Gulf of Oman that came to be unaffectionately known as Gonzo Station (Gulf of Oman Naval Zone of Operations). The atmosphere tends to be stagnant and hot, with everyone operating on edge, waiting for a possible order to launch a strike.

Best of luck to our sailors, pilots and support crews. I don’t envy you the task in front of you.