(National Sentinel) War Drums: U.S. and South Korean naval and air forces launched a four-day military exercise off the Korean peninsula in what analysts and foreign policy experts say is a “clear warning” to the North.
The exercises, launched on Saturday, involve three aircraft carrier battle groups — the USS Ronald Reagan, Nimitz and Theodore Roosevelt, and come as President Donald J. Trump continues his Asia tour.
Many of Trump’s discussions with regional leaders included how to solve the North Korean nuclear threat.
In addition to the carriers, 11 U.S. Navy ballistic missile defense warships equipped with the Aegis system will join seven South Korean navy vessels, including two equipped with the same system.
Aegis technology refers to missile tracking and guidance, the UK’s Daily Mail reported.
The goal of the exercises is to improve combined operations and aerial strike capabilities while displaying “strong will and firm military readiness to defeat any provocation by North Korea with dominant force in the event of crisis,” the South Korean military said in a statement.
The drills are the first time since 2007 three U.S. carriers participated together in the same exercise. The last time that happened was 2007 in waters near Guam.
The U.S. carriers will also participate in separate exercises with three Japanese destroyers on Sunday, according to Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force, the Daily Mail.
The U.S. has begun sending more strategic assets including long-range bombers and F-35A fighters in patrols and shows of force near the Korean peninsula in recent months, as rhetoric between Trump and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has become more bellicose.
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Increased patrols have also come as North Korea hastens its development of nuclear weapons, which Trump has said the U.S. would not allow.
Trump continued his tough talk against Pyongyang on Friday in a speech to business leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Danang, Vietnam, saying that the region’s future “must not be held hostage to a dictator’s twisted fantasies of violent conquest and nuclear blackmail,” referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Trump also delivered a sharp warning to Pyongyang in a speech at South Korea’s parliament last week, telling the country: “Do not underestimate us. And do not try us.”
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