USS Harry Truman deployed to strike ISIS in wake of Paris attack

The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman © Paul Farley
The US Navy has deployed the aircraft carrier ‘Harry S. Truman’ to the Middle East, where it will help the US-led coalition launch strikes against the Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.

Although the deployment of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier has been scheduled for more than a year, according to the Navy Times, news of its departure comes in the wake of the Paris massacre that claimed the lives of at least 129 people. The Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS/ISIL) has claimed responsibility.

The Truman's deployment will last for seven months, the Washington Post reported. The carrier left Norfolk, Virginia on Monday and will arrive in the Persian Gulf in roughly six weeks. It is accompanied by the rest of the carrier strike group, which consists of the Carrier Air Wing Squadron 7, Destroyer Squadron 28, and the ships USS Anzio, USS Bulkeley, USS Gravely and the USS Gonzalez, according to The Hill.

"The Harry S. Truman battle group will be there in due time and execute our mission successfully," Captain Ryan Scholl, the vessel’s skipper, told the Navy Times. "We hope that brings some peace of mind to the people that are out there, both our coalition partners as well as our troops on the ground, and it brings a hard-to-swallow, deliberate pause in our enemy."

The Truman will arrive in the Middle East alongside France’s only aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, which is also set to deploy this week. The French have intensified their assault on IS since the violence in Paris over the weekend, striking numerous targets in the militant group’s stronghold in Raqqa, Syria.

"We certainly extend our condolences to the French and look forward to supporting them as part of a coalition in any way that we can," said Rear Admiral Bret Batchelder, the Truman Carrier Strike Group’s commander, told the Navy Times. "We are a barometer of national resolve. We are going to go where it is most important for our nation to send us, anywhere around the globe, and we don't need a permission slip to operate there. That's the value that we bring and we take great pride in that."

The previous American carrier taking part in the battle against IS, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, left the region last month to head to California. The Roosevelt was responsible for “1,812 combat sorties totaling 10,618 combat flight hours, taking on 14.5 million gallons of jet fuel and expending 1,085 precision-guided munitions,” according to the US Naval Institute.

With the Roosevelt’s departure, the absence of carrier capabilities meant coalition forces were flying out of airbases in Turkey in order to strike militant targets.

The Truman’s deployment also comes as the US steps up its campaign against IS. On Monday, American airstrikes in Syria destroyed some 116 trucks that were being use by IS to smuggle crude oil. According to US officials, the attacks were part of a plan to target the militant group’s funding capabilities, as its oil operation reportedly rakes in about $40 million a month.