Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) to move today from the North Arabian Sea into the Arabian Gulf.

The order will provide the Commander-in-Chief additional flexibility should military options be required to protect American lives, citizens and interests in Iraq.

Bush will be accompanied by the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) and the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun (DDG 103).

The ships are expected to complete their transit into the Gulf later this evening.

USS George H.W. Bush departed her home port of Norfolk, Va. in February of this year and is operating in the Middle East region as part of an on-going rotation of forward-deployed forces to support maritime security operations.

American naval presence in the Arabian Gulf continues to support our longstanding commitments to the security and stability of the region.