One month ago, when we first discussed that in addition to the CVN-70 Carl Vinson aircraft carrier group, the US was deploying two more carriers toward the Korean peninsula, some took the Yonhap-sourced report skeptically: after all, what’s the incremental symbolic impact of having three, or even two aircraft carriers next to North Korea when just one would more than suffice. Then, two weeks ago, the report was proven half right when US officials announced that in addition to the first US carrier already on location, the US Navy is moving the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier to the Korean Peninsula, where it would conduct dual-carrier training exercises with the USS Carl Vinson.
After completing its maintenance period in Yokosuka, Japan, the USS Ronald Reagan departed for the Korean Peninsula on Tuesday, according to the Navy. “Coming out of a long in-port maintenance period we have to ensure that Ronald Reagan and the remainder of the strike group are integrated properly as we move forward,” Rear Adm. Charles Williams said in a press release. Once it arrives in the region, the carrier will conduct a variety of training exercises but primarily focus on certifying its ability to safely launch and recover aircraft, the service said. In other words, training for combat missions involved the North Korean capital.
We concluded our report from mid-May by saying that the US Navy may soon “further deploy the CVN-68 Nimitz, which was the third carrier reported to be eventually making its way toward Korea.”
We didn’t have long to wait, because on Friday the Kitsap Sun confirmed what we reported initially over a month ago, namely that the USS Nimitz will depart Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton on Thursday on its first deployment since 2013. Official details of the deployment were hazy, with spokeswoman Theresa Donnelly saying that The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier is expected to be in the western Pacific for six months with visits to the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, “though plans could change in response to world events.”
However, a subsequent report from VOAnews confirms that the ultimate destination is none other than the country the US will almost certainly attack next, North Korea:
The United States is sending a third aircraft carrier strike force to the western Pacific region in an apparent warning to North Korea to deter its ballistic missile and nuclear programs, two sources have told VOA. The USS Nimitz, one of the world’s largest warships, will join two other supercarriers, the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Ronald Reagan, in the western Pacific.
The Nimitz will lead Carrier Strike Group 11, which includes guided-missile destroyers USS Shoup and USS Kidd from Naval Station Everett, guided-missile destroyers USS Howard and USS Pinckney and guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton from San Diego, and a conglomeration of aircraft squadrons that comprise Carrier Air Wing 11, including Naval Air Station Whidbey Island-based Gray Wolves of Electronic Attack Squadron 142.
After returning from its last deployment, the Nimitz underwent a 20-month maintenance and modernization period at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard that was completed in October.
It has spent most of the past seven months at sea undergoing training and inspections in preparation for deployment. Now the ship and crew are ready to go, said commanding officer Capt. Kevin Lenox.
“I am so incredibly proud of the entire Nimitz team and the terrific coordination and support across the entire strike group, especially in such a condensed training cycle,” he said in a news release. “The crew stepped up to the plate, and I’m confident we’re ready to meet whatever challenges lie ahead on our upcoming deployment.”
While it is rare for the U.S. military to deploy two carriers in the same region at the same time, it is almost unheard of to have three aircraft carriers in close proximity to each other absent current or imminent military action. Which may be the case soon: as VOA notes, North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threat is seen as a major security challenge for Trump, who has vowed to prevent the country from being able to strike the U.S. with a nuclear missile.
Sitting alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump said on Friday prior to the start of the G-7 meeting in Sicily that world leaders would have a “particular focus on the North Korea problem.” The White House issued a statement on Friday which said the two leaders have agreed to “enhance sanctions on North Korea” in an attempt to prevent the further development of North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.
Meanwhile, as reported on Friday, the U.S. military will test a system to shoot down an ICBM for the first time next week. It is intended to simulate a North Korean ICBM aimed at the U.S. The Missile Defense Agency said it will test an existing missile defense system on Tuesday to try to intercept an ICBM. The Pentagon has used the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system to intercept other types of missiles, but never an ICBM. The GMD has been inconsistent, succeeding in nine of 17 attempts against missiles without intercontinental range capability since 1999.
So, perhaps as a contingency plan, the US will soon have not one, not two, but three aircraft carriers in the proximity of the Korean peninsula “just in case.” The trip from Naval Station Everett is expected to take several weeks. Meanwhile, here is the latest deployment of US naval forces around the globe as of May 25, courtesy of Stratfor.
President Trump and Japan PM Abe Join Forces Against Kim Jong Un
President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are joining forces against Insane North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Un.
They are using the art of the deal to hit the chubby dictator where it hurts most, the already thin pocketbook.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed on Friday to expand sanctions against North Korea over its continued development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, the White House said.
Pyongyang has carried out repeated missile tests in the past year, prompting an array of countries to demand tougher economic sanctions to push the isolated country towards dismantling its weapons programmes.
Meeting before a Group of Seven summit, Trump and Abe dedicated much of their discussion to the issue, aides said.
“President Trump and Prime Minister Abe agreed their teams would cooperate to enhance sanctions on North Korea, including by identifying and sanctioning entities that support North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs,” the White House said in a statement.
“They also agreed to further strengthen the alliance between the United States and Japan, to further each country’s capability to deter and defend against threats from North Korea,” it said.
Trump has said he will prevent North Korea from being able to hit the United States with a nuclear missile, a capability experts say Pyongyang could have some time after 2020.
“It is very much on our minds…It’s a big problem, it’s a world problem and it will be solved. At some point it will be solved. You can bet on that,” Trump told reporters, sitting alongside Abe.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this month called on countries all over the world to implement existing U.N. sanctions on North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs, adding that the U.S. administration would be willing to use secondary sanctions to target foreign companies that continue to do business with Pyongyang.
U.S. Working on Advanced Military Tactic That Will Humiliate Kim Jong Un
Kim Jong Un of North Korea is obviously proud of his missile stash.
After all, he literally has PARADES with them as the “feature.’
How stupid will he feel the next time he launches one and it’s swiftly shot down?
The U.S. is working hard to make that a reality.
Preparing for North Korea’s growing threat, the Pentagon will try to shoot down an intercontinental-range missile for the first time in a test next week.
The goal is to more closely simulate a North Korean ICBM aimed at the U.S. homeland, officials said Friday
The American interceptor has a spotty track record, succeeding in nine of 17 attempts since 1999. The most recent test, in June 2014, was a success, but that followed three straight failures. The system has evolved from the multibillion-dollar effort triggered by President Ronald Reagan’s 1983 push for a “Star Wars” solution to ballistic missile threats during the Cold War — when the Soviet Union was the only major worry.
North Korea is now the focus of U.S. efforts because its leader, Kim Jong Un, has vowed to field a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching American territory. He has yet to test an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, but Pentagon officials believe he is speeding in that direction.
Marine Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said this week that “left unchecked,” Kim will eventually succeed.
The Pentagon has a variety of missile defense systems, but the one designed with a potential North Korean ICBM in mind is perhaps the most technologically challenging. Critics say it also is the least reliable.
The basic defensive idea is to fire a rocket into space upon warning of a hostile missile launch.
The rocket releases a 5-foot-long device called a “kill vehicle” that uses internal guidance systems to steer into the path of the oncoming missile’s warhead, destroying it by force of impact. Officially known as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, the Pentagon likens it to hitting a bullet with a bullet.