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Intel: Navy downplays Iran hawks' messaging on latest deployment

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton talks to reporters at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 1, 2019.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RC11226671B0

A day after US national security adviser John Bolton trumpeted the deployment of a US carrier group as a “clear and unmistakable message” to Iran, the US Navy’s top admiral lowered the temperature a notch this morning in a speech near Washington. Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson indicated that the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln group to the Middle East had been planned “for some time now” and described the move as an example of “dynamic force employment,” the Pentagon's model of sending out troops and other assets at seemingly irregular intervals to keep US adversaries off balance. 

Why it matters: CNN reported today that the Department of Defense had asked the White House to send out a statement about its deployment as a warning based on intelligence about threats to US personnel as Iran weighs retaliation for Trump's “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign. Bolton responded with a statement saying the deployment of the carrier group and of an unidentified “bomber task force” to the region was in response to a “number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings.” But in remarks at the SeaAirSpace maritime exhibition in Maryland this morning, Richardson said the carrier group was on a “scheduled deployment.”

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