US aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman is currently leading a battle group conducting a military exercise in the Adriatic, Croatian state agency Hina reported on Thursday, adding that the group's commander "declined to speculate on what would happen after the exercises end in the coming days because rules forbid talking about future operations."
“But the presence of aircraft carriers is a powerful symbol of U.S. military power and NATO strength in the region in the context of growing tensions over the build-up of Russian forces near Ukraine’s borders,” Hina opined.
Hina did not specify where in the Adriatic the American aircraft carrier currently is.
“The decision on where the US combat group will be deployed is made at the level of the Secretary of Defense,” US Rear Admiral Curt Renshaw, who leads the US Navy’s Carrier Strike Group 8, the aircraft carrier’s combat group, said on Wednesday.
“But we are ready to act anywhere, we planned to be on a long mission when we left Norfolk and we plan to act where we are most needed,” Renshaw added.
The battle group, which is under NATO operational control, is in the Adriatic for coordinated naval exercises, anti-submarine warfare training and long-range attack training. The twelve-day exercise should last until February 4th.
“Announcing the exercise, dubbed Neptune Strike 2022, NATO said this was the first time since the Cold War that an entire US combat group had been under his command,” Hina said.
In a press release, the US Department of Defense emphasized the role of its aircraft carrier in these exercises as proof that NATO is “united, capable and strong.”
The US had announced earlier Wednesday that they would send nearly 3,000 troops to Poland and Romania over the ongoing Ukraine crisis and the amassing of Russian forces along its border with Ukraine.
Russian officials denied that they are planning to invade Ukraine. However “Russia says that it could take unspecified military measures if its demands are not met, including NATO’s promise to never expand to Ukraine,” Hina reported.