Three U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups will drill together in the Western Pacific for the first time in a decade, as President Donald Trump continues on his 12-day Asia tour in South Korea.
The USS Nimitz, Ronald Reagan and Theodore Roosevelt, and their accompanying warships, will drill together in the coming days, U.S. officials told Reuters exclusively, and on the condition of anonymity.
This comes as a huge show of force during a time when tensions continue to run high with North Korea.
President Trump has hinted that the U.S. Military would take care of any situation on the Korean Peninsula, if it were to come to that; meanwhile, North Korea continues to threaten the United States with talks of launching another ICBM and continuing to develop its missile programs.
Trump in South Korea on Tuesday said that North Korea should “make a deal.”
“It makes sense for North Korea to come to the table and make a deal that is good for the people of North Korea and for the world,” Trump said during a press conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the Associated Press reported. “I do see certain movement.”
He’s seen “a lot of progress” in dealing with North Korea, Trump added, the AP reported. He also pointed out the three aircraft carrier groups and nuclear submarine that are deployed to the region and said “we hope to God we never have to use” them, the AP said.
A Japanese destroyer, the Inazuma, will join the armada, two Japanese government officials said, following a separate three-day exercise with the Reagan and two Indian warships in the Sea of Japan that ended Monday.
U.S. officials have previously said the drill was under consideration and that planning was under way. The decision to soon go forward with the exercise in the Western Pacific has not been previously published.
The four U.S. officials and two Japanese sources who discussed the drill with Reuters spoke on condition of anonymity, and did not disclose the precise date or location of the exercise. The Pentagon and the Navy’s Pacific Fleet declined comment on future operations.
The last time three carriers drilled together in an exercise of this magnitude was when the USS Nimitz, John C. Stennis and Kitty Hawk drilled near Guam in 2007.
Trump was in Japan over the weekend and was then in South Korea starting Tuesday.