While nothing concrete, clear or bi-partisan came out of Obama’s White House meeting today with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; while Secretary of State John Kerry maintained afterwards that all options are still on the table; while iraq’s Shiite-dominated government officially requested that Washington provide “air power” and while Dick Cheney was being gracious and dignified about the Iraq crisis, military leaders were going about in a truly dignified manner about their duties, working out plans and details to implement whatever options are selected by the President.
As the aircraft carrier George H. W. Bush, accompanied by the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun, sails into the Arabian Gulf, other services are “ready if called upon for Iraq.”
The U.S. Air Force for one is fully engaged in planning efforts to provide options for the situation in Iraq and is ready to provide its capabilities if necessary, says Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James.
“We have strike capabilities should those be called for,” she said. “The refueling of other aircraft is crucial — we have that in the Air Force — and then command and control. These are the types of capabilities that the Air Force brings to the table, and when you talk about those capabilities and you talk about this part of the world, we have some of those assets stationed in the Middle East.”
Assets in the Middle East, she said, include F-15E Strike Eagle F-16 Fighting Falcons and F-22 Raptor fighter jets; KC-135 Stratotanker air refuelers; A-10 Thunderbolt II attack jets; B-1 Lancer bombers; C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 Hercules transport aircraft; and unmanned aerial systems.
“So we have a variety of assets already over there in the regular order,” James said. “And, of course, we have others which could be moved within a matter of a fairly short period of time should that be asked of us. The Air Force is fully engaged in the planning efforts, and we are standing by with our sister services. … But, of course, no decisions have been made.”
James said the ongoing situation in Iraq is an important military situation, but that it has other ramifications.
“That is what the president is doing,” she said. “He’s trying to bring in all of those factors to make a decision.”
Here are images of some of those capabilities and preparations.
Lead photo: The aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush transits the Strait of Hormuz, June 14, 2014. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Scott Barnes.
U.S. sailors aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde guide a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey aircraft as it departs the Mesa Verde to support ongoing operations in the Persian Gulf, June 16, 2014.
An E-2C Hawkeye aircraft lands aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Persian Gulf, June 16, 2014. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert Burck
An F/A-18C Hornet prepares to land aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Persian Gulf, June 16, 2014. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Card
U.S. sailor directs an EA-6B Prowler as it lands on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Persian Gulf, June 16, 2014. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua K. Horton
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.