For the first time in more than a decade, three American aircraft carriers are going to be in the same part of the world.
It’s a dramatic show of force to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and a demonstration of America’s commitment to the region.
Until Tuesday, the USS Ronald Reagan, the USS Theodore Roosevelt and the USS Nimitz will hold strike force exercises in the Western Pacific, off the coast of the Korean Peninsula.
The Ronald Reagan is stationed in Japan, the Theodore Roosevelt is stationed in San Diego and the USS Nimitz is station at Naval Base Kitsap at Bremerton, Washington. It’s the first time since exercise Valiant Shield in 2006 off the coast of Guam that three carrier strike groups will operate together, Fox News reports.
The units assigned to the three-carrier strike force will conduct “coordinated operations” in international waters to demonstrate the Navy’s ability to operate multiple carrier strike groups as part of a coordinate strike effort.
“It is a rare opportunity to train with two aircraft carriers together, and even rarer to be able to train with three,” said U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander, Adm. Scott Swift. “Multiple carrier strike force operations are very complex, and this exercise in the Western Pacific is a strong testament to the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s unique ability and ironclad commitment to the continued security and stability of the region.”
While in the same area, the strike force will conduct air defense drills, replenishments, sea surveillance, defensive air combat training and close-in coordinated maneuvers.
In 2006, Valiant Shield focused on the ability to quickly bring the three groups together in response to a regional situation.
More recently, U.S. Navy aircraft carriers have conducted dual carrier strike group operations in the Western Pacific, including in the South China Sea, East China Sea and Philippine Sea. These opportunities typically occur when strike groups deployed to the 7th Fleet area of operations from the west coast of the United States are joined with the forward deployed carrier strike group from Japan.
US military officials insist the exercises aren’t a direct threat or provocation to North Korea, rather an exercise to “demonstrate U.S. resolve with allies Japan and South Korea during the ongoing crisis with North Korea.”
Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in Hawaii in late October, before the dates of the exercise had been made public, that the three carriers were not targeting North Korea. He called their convergence in the area a “routine demonstration of our commitment to the region.”
For seven decades, the Pacific Fleet has been a stabilizing presence conducting exercises throughout the region. The announcement didn’t mention that it coincided with President Donald Trump’s trip to several Asian countries, but they are connected with a string of U.S. moves to showcase U.S. military strength as Washington and its allies put diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang to end its nuclear weapons program and cease the testing of ballistic missiles.
What do you think? Are we headed to a military confrontation with North Korea? Sound off below!