The Pentagon has named a new leader to oversee naval forces on the tension-heavy Korean Peninsula.
Capt. Michael Boyle will take charge of Navy Region Korea, Naval Forces Korea and the naval component of United Nations Command, said a Defense Department statement issued this week. The selection was made by Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson.
Boyle — who was selected for appointment to the rank of rear admiral in October — now serves as director for international engagement for the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. Before that, he commanded the Japan-based Carrier Air Wing 5, which is the aviation wing of the Navy’s 7th Fleet.
The region has seen an uptick in naval activity in recent months, as North Korea conducted a string of ballistic-missile tests — including three intercontinental ballistic missiles — and detonated its sixth and most powerful underground nuclear blast.
Last month, the USS Ronald Reagan strike group conducted a rare tri-carrier exercise with the USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roosevelt strike groups east of the peninsula. In October, U.S. ships took part in a four-day exercise with the South Korean navy, followed by a port visit by the Ronald Reagan to Busan. The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan also visited the port that month.
The deployment of U.S. bombers, submarines and aircraft carriers to the peninsula always infuriates Pyongyang, which considers them signals of preparations for an invasion.
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