Gulf Deployment 'a PR Move'

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While the Pentagon announced Friday it had moved forward by a week the deployment of the aircraft carrier Nimitz in the Persian Gulf, TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson believes the move is primarily a publicity exercise. The move came after the Monday attack by Iranian warplanes on exiled rebel bases inside Iraq, which violated the U. no-fly zone. But, says Thompson, “these cross border spats have been going on since the Iran-Iraq war ended in 1988.” Although rushing the Nimitz to the region makes clear that the no-fly zone will be enforced, “it’s mostly a PR exercise, because the military has to justify its existence during peace time, showing the American people it’s ready to deal with any threat. There are often carriers in the Gulf — carriers have to be at sea somewhere.”

Of course the Navy might need a separate PR exercise for the hundreds of sailors who lost out on some welcome shore-leave in Singapore when the Nimitz itinerary changed.