The US military plans to send a large floating base for commando teams to the Middle East amid rising tensions with Iran and intensifying fighting in Yemen, according to The Washington Post.
Citing unspecified procurement documents, the newspaper said the Navy is converting an aging warship it had planned to decommission into a makeshift staging base for the commandos in response to requests from the US Central Command.
Unofficially dubbed a "mothership," the floating base could accommodate smaller high-speed boats and helicopters commonly used by Navy SEALs, the report said.
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Special operations forces are a key part of President Barack Obama's strategy to make the military leaner and more agile as the Pentagon confronts at least $487 billion in spending cuts over the next decade, the paper noted.
Mike Kafka, a spokesman for the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command, declined to elaborate on the floating base’s purpose or to say where, exactly, it will be deployed in the Middle East, The Post said.
Other Navy officials acknowledged that they were moving with unusual haste to complete the conversion and send the mothership to the region by early summer, the report said.
Navy documents indicate that it could be headed to the Persian Gulf, where Iran has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, The Post noted.