WASHINGTON (AP) - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered an aircraft carrier - the USS George H.W. Bush - to move from the northern Arabian Sea to the Persian Gulf as President Barack Obama considers possible military options for Iraq.
Accompanying the carrier is the Mayport-based guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun. The ships are expected to complete their move into the Gulf later Saturday.
Hagel's press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby, says the order will give the president added flexibility if military action is required to protect American lives, citizens and interests in Iraq.
The ships carry Tomahawk missiles, which could reach Iraq. The Bush is carrying fighter jets that could also easily get to Iraq, where a fast-moving Islamic insurgency is gaining territory.