The United States operates 11 carrier strike groups, and has deployed them repeatedly across the globe over the decades in a show of force against mostly smaller, militarily weaker nations. US forces in the Mediterranean operate under the Sixth Fleet – headquartered in Naples, Italy, and have a combined strength of up to 40 ships and 175 aircraft.
“There are numerous Russian ships and subs in the Mediterranean today and that’s why it’s important for NATO to have an equal presence, to deter them. The only thing that Putin understands is strength”, Del Toro said, speaking to Politico.
“The role of Truman, with other allies, is to deter Russians from further aggression and to be on constant standby for orders that might be given from our president or from other leaders around the world for the protection of Ukraine and the people of Ukraine”, the commander added.
A growing number of US lawmakers has called for the introduction of a no-fly zone over Ukraine, notwithstanding the danger of provoking a direct military confrontation with Russia.
The US and its allies have experience implementing no-fly zones over mostly small and militarily overmatched countries, including Iraq, Bosnia, and Libya. Between 1991 and 2011, NATO used no-fly zones against these countries not only to stop the operation of aircraft over designated areas, but to themselves engage in the bombing of ground targets. In Iraq, authorities estimate that up to 1,400 civilians were killed in US and UK-enforced no-fly zones between 1991 and 2003. In Bosnia between 1993 and 1995, NATO jets bombed civilian infrastructure and killed over 150 civilians, and polluted the country with cancer-causing depleted uranium shells. The no-fly zone instituted over Libya in 2011 played a crucial role in overthrowing the Gaddafi government and turning the country into a failed state with open-air slave markets.