The U.S. is preparing for a massive step up of air strikes in Afghanistan with Defence Secretary Robert Gates ordering a second aircraft carrier into the Arabian Sea off the coast of Pakistan, said a media report.

USS Lincoln has been ordered to be deployed in the northern Arabian Sea apparently as part of moves to support a major offensive against Taliban in Afghanistan.

“Two carriers operating off the coast of Pakistan means about 120 aircraft available for missions over Afghanistan. And that's not counting U.S. Air Force missions flown out of Bagram and Kandahar,” CBS news reported.

“Although American commanders frequently say ‘we cannot kill our way out of this war,' that appears to be exactly what the U.S. is doing — unleashing air strikes and special operations raids against the Taliban in an effort to force them to the bargaining table,” said the news channel.

The CBS said this was not likely to change the mind of the Taliban leadership, which remains safe in Pakistan.

But the Pentagon officials hope that local commanders in Afghanistan will either come over to the government side or agree to cease fire.

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