With Reagan's Arrival, 2 US Carriers Are Now Supporting Afghanistan Troop Withdrawal

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Sailors aboard the USS Ronald Reagan man the rails as the ship pulls in to Pearl Harbor.
Sailors stationed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan man the rails as the ship pulls in to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (U.S. Navy/Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua Scott)

The Ronald Reagan carrier strike group is now in the Middle East to help support the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, the Navy announced Friday.

The Japan-based carrier Ronald Reagan, along with the cruiser Shiloh and destroyer Halsey, entered the Fifth Fleet area of operations Friday, a statement from the strike group said.

"While in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, the Ronald Reagan CSG will operate and train alongside regional and coalition partners, and provide airpower to protect U.S. and coalition forces as they conduct drawdown operations from Afghanistan," the statement explained.

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The Reagan joins the carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower and its strike group, which have been in the area since April supporting Operation Inherent Resolve. The Eisenhower's deployment was extended shortly after it arrived in the area, following the White House announcement that it would withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 or earlier.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in April that the Eisenhower's extension, as well as the deployment to the region of more B-52H Stratofortress bombers, was approved in case the Taliban decided to attack U.S. forces as they withdrew.

The move marks the first time the Reagan has been in the Arabian Sea since 2012.

-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at konstantin.toropin@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.

Related: Last US Troops Will Leave Afghanistan by 20th Anniversary of 9/11, White House Says

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