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ARLINGTON, Va. — The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln has moved from the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea to support operations in Afghanistan.

NBC News first reported Monday night that the carrier has been moved because of the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, where a suicide bomber killed more than 40 people Monday outside the Indian Embassy in Kabul.

A spokesman for 5th Fleet confirmed the move Tuesday.

"Conditions are worsening on the ground in Afghanistan and commanders have requested additional air support," said Lt. Nathan Christensen.

The deployment is not meant to send a message to Iran, Christensen said.

"It’s absolutely not in response to Iran whatsoever," he said.

For security reasons, Christensen could not say how long the Lincoln would provide air support for Afghanistan, or when it is expected to leave the 5th Fleet area of operations.

"They are there for the foreseeable future," said Lt. Cmdr. Bill Speaks, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command.

Speaks would not say if the move was prompted by the worsening situation in Afghanistan.

"This is simply a move to ensure strategic flexibility and responsiveness through the posturing of our forces," he said.

He also could not say if the Lincoln’s trip to the Arabian Sea had been planned or was an adjustment due to conditions on the ground.

"These kinds of things are constantly under review and assessment," he said. "I honestly don’t how long ago that decision was made or thought of."

A Navy official could not give a specific date on when the Lincoln would be replaced by the USS Ronald Reagan.

The Reagan is currently in the western Pacific filling in for the USS Kitty Hawk, which is taking part in the Rim of the Pacific exercises in place of the USS George Washington, which is being repaired following a fire in May, the official said.

If needed, the Navy can send carriers to the 5th Fleet area of operations ahead of schedule, such as the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which is slated to deploy in late summer or early fall, the official said.


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