The latest efforts to show North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un what he’s up against include the USS Carl Vinson getting extra protection as it makes its way toward the Korean Peninsula.
The Japan Times reported that Japan’s defense ministry said two Japanese F-15 fighter jets participated in an ongoing exercise Friday involving the carrier strike group and two Japanese destroyers.
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force guided-missile destroyer JS Ashigara and the destroyer JS Samidare were seen traveling in the Philippine Sea toward the peninsula for an exercise with South Korea, according to the Boston Herald.
The exercise took reportedly place in waters east of Okinawa. Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force said the exercise was scheduled for Wednesday but was canceled due to bad weather, reported Xinhua Net. The news agency also reported that it was rare to hold military drills with aircraft carriers.
(Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers JS Hamagiri (DD-155), JS with U.S.S. Carl Vinson)
Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said the exercises “would further strengthen the overall deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. alliance, and showcase our country’s commitment and high ability in serving the regional stability.”
An MSDF spokesman told The Japan Times that the MSDF “always looked for opportunities to conduct joint drills with the U.S. Navy, and we consider this good timing,” adding that it was unknown when the drills would wrap up.
The Vinson strike group conducted two exercises with the Japanese navy last month.
On Saturday, the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier on started a joint naval drill with the South Korean Navy in the East Sea amid heightened tensions from North Korea`s failed ballistic missile launch earlier in the morning.
“South Korea and US strike forces began a drill in the East Sea from 6 p.m. today against the backdrop of the current security situation,” the South Korean Navy said.
No specific schedule for the rendezvous was released to the media yet, but the exercise is expected to continue until sometime next week, Yonhap news agency reported.
At the core of the naval exercise lies the missile warning informational link exercise (LINKEX) that monitors, traces and intercepts any intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) from North Korea.
“The exercise is the follow-up of the naval exercise in the Yellow Sea between the two navies on Tuesday. It is aimed at deterring North Korea`s provocations and strengthening the military readiness of the Korea-US alliance,” the Navy said.
It would mark the Vinson`s second operation in South Korean waters in less than two months, an unusual move that comes amid military tensions in Korea.
Earlier on Saturday, Pyongyang had launched a medium-range ballistic missile that basically….well, belly flopped over North Korean territory shortly after takeoff. That had to be pretty embarassing for Kim Jong-Un. I’m sure a “heads rolled”.
U.S. Pacific Command commander Adm. Harry Harris said the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group can “absolutely” defend itself against anything North Korea could shoot at it, despite media reports to the contrary.
Harris, testifying before the House Armed Services Committee today, called stories – such as this Wednesday’s article by Bloomberg, which he and HASC chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) alluded to but did not mention by name – “misleading.”
In reponse to Kim Jong-Un’s missiles, Admiral Harris of the USS Carl Vinson stated:
Admiral Harris added:
“We have ballistic missile ships in the Sea of Japan, the East Sea, that are capable of defending against ballistic missiles. North Korea does not have a ballistic missile anti-ship weapon that would threaten the Carl Vinson strike group. The weapons that North Korea could put against the Carl Vinson strike group are easily defended by the capabilities resident in that strike group. If it flies it will die, if it’s flying against the Carl Vinson strike group. I’m confident in that strike group’s ability to not only defend itself but to project power, if that is the call that we receive from the president and secretary of defense.”
“Today it sits in the Philippine Sea just east of Okinawa, in striking range, power projection range, of North Korea if called upon to do that. And then in a few days I expect it will continue to move north,” Harris said, noting that Vinson’s fighter jets could reach North Korea in about two hours if called on for a mission, given their current location closer to Japan. He called this distance “well within our capability” but added the jets would need to be refueled during the mission.
(Ohio-class guided missile submarine USS Michigan – SSGN-727)
“It will be there for a few days and then it will leave port and be operating in the area. This is a show of solidarity with our South Korean allies and a flexible deterrent show of force to North Korea, should they consider using force against South Korea.”
President Trump and his administration will do everything they can to ensure that a strong message is sent to North Korea should they continue to try to do anything stupid. It’s hard to imagine that Kim Jong-Un could be as stupid as Assad or ISIS. So would Kim Jong-Un prefer Tomahawks, a MOAB or something a little stronger?
Every spring the U.S. conducts maritime drills – usually joint drills. This is nothing new. The drills are routine operations and training that usually occur in the Western Pacific. This year, it just so happens that if Kim Jong-Un is stupid enough, they may turn into something more than just a drill.
North Korea has launched at least 6 ballistic missile tests since the first of the year or since President Trump took office. Kim Jong-Un must still think he’s dealing with Obama. After seeing the message sent to Syria and Afghanistan, you wouldn’t think Kim Jong-Un would continue to flaunt his brashness would you? Talk about being belligerent! Trump is only going to put up with Kim Jong-Un’s BS for only so long.
Since the last conflict between North Korea ended with an armistice instead of a peace treaty – we basically have a “gentleman’s agreement” – you don’t shoot at me, and I won’t shoot at you. If Kim Jong-Un has decided not to be a gentlemen any more….well, then “the gloves come off”.