U.S. to stage drill with three carriers as Trump visits Asia

11_9_Drills

South Korea and the United States started large-scale military manoeuvers on Saturday off the Korean peninsula in which three American aircraft carriers are taking part.

The nuclear powered USS Ronald Reagan, USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roosevelt will conduct the drills to show the US Navy's unique capability to operate multi-carrier strike groups, according to the Seventh Fleet in a statement released from its headquarters on the Japanese base of Yokosuka.

After President Donald Trump described his strategy on containing North Korea as "peace through strength", Rodong Sinmun newspaper, the North Korean ruling party's mouthpiece, published an article on Friday protesting the drills and vowing to "defend peace until the end".

"It is a rare opportunity to train with two aircraft carriers together, and even rarer to be able to train with three", U.S. Pacific Fleet chief Adm. Scott Swift said in a statement. The exercises appear to be a large-scale show of force aimed at North Korea and scheduled to coincide with Trump's trip to Asia.


The objective of the exercise was to demonstrate the U.S. Navy's ability to "operate multiple carrier strike groups as a coordinated strike force efforts", the navy said, adding that the three carrier strike groups will conduct training including "air defense drills, sea surveillance, replenishment at sea, defensive air combat training, close-in coordinated maneuver". Ronald Reagan took part in VS 2006 and Nimitz took part in VS 2007.

From the South Korean side, two Aegis-equipped destroyers, one destroyer and four frigates will be mobilized for the joint exercises with the US carriers, according to Yonhap. In recent months, U.S. Navy carriers have conducted dual-carrier strike group exercises in the Western Pacific, including in the contested South China Sea, East China Sea and Philippine Sea.

The U.S. Pacific Fleet has a determined and steady presence throughout the region, conducting operations for more than 70 years now.

During his recent visit to Seoul, Trump said, " North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned. This is a very different administration than the US has had in the past.

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