The USS Abraham Lincoln, with its contingent of Navy destroyers and cruisers and a fighting force of about 70 aircraft, is the centerpiece of the Pentagon’s response to what it calls Iranian threats to attack U.S. forces or commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf region.

The aircraft carrier is in international waters in the Arabian Sea. And the head of Central Command says it’s his assessment that if the U.S. hadn’t recently reinforced its military presence, an attack might have taken place by now.

The Lincoln’s presence seems to sending an a signal to Iran that the foremost symbol of the American military’s global reach is back in Iran’s neighborhood, perhaps to stay.

In recent years, there has been no regular U.S. aircraft carrier presence in the Middle East.

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