Friday, 17 November, 2017

United States carriers will begin drills in rare show of force

US aircraft carrier near Korean peninsula 3 US aircraft carriers to conduct simultaneous maritime drill in the Pacific in massive show of force
Wilma Wheeler | 10 November, 2017, 01:01

The USS Ronald Reagan, based in Japan; the USS Theodore Roosevelt, based in San Diego; and the USS Nimitz, based at Naval Base Kitsap at Bremerton, Washington, will commence the strike force exercise in the Western Pacific Saturday through next Tuesday. 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 last time such drills were held was during the Valiant Shield exercises in 2006 and 2007, which took place off the coast of the US territory of Guam, which hosts two USA military bases, and aimed to develop the ability for the three strike groups to quickly work together should it become necessary.

The exercise will involve three of the Navy's 11 carriers, and concentrate more aircraft carriers the combined fleets of China and Russian Federation.

The Navy will conduct a joint exercise with three aircraft carriers in the Western Pacific for the first time in a decade.

Like those earlier maritime maneuvers, this year's Valiant Shield tests the Navy's ability to rapidly deploy a trio of strike groups to address a regional crisis.

The exercise announcement comes as President Donald Trump arrived in China to discuss North Korea's nuclear and missile program. Trump sought to ratchet up pressure on North Korea by refusing to rule out eventual military action and declaring that the United States "will not stand" for North Korea menacing America or its Asian allies.

A spokesperson for the South Korean Ministry of Defense told EFE in Seoul that the three U.S. aircraft carriers will also carry out maneuvers with the South Korean Navy, closer to North Korean territory, in the Sea of Japan - alternatively called the East Sea in the two Koreas. "As long as the U.S. and its followers continue their hostile acts against us, we will further bolster our nuclear, precious sword of justice", said a dispatch carried by the North Korean daily Rodong Sinmun shortly ahead of Trump's arrival.

The CIA has said North Korea could be only months away from developing the ability to hit the United States with nuclear weapons, a scenario Trump has vowed to prevent.

Given the close geographical proximity and longstanding diplomatic ties, war with North Korea would nearly inevitably lead to war with China, another nuclear armed state.

The request would also provide about $1.2 billion for the administration's new Afghanistan and South Asia strategy, which the request says would support the deployment of 3,500 more US troops to Afghanistan.

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