WASHINGTON – The United States Department of Defense announced on Thursday that three aircraft carrier groups have been deployed in the Pacific Ocean and, although it wanted to dissociate this maneuver from the ongoing tensions with North Korea, it acknowledged that it is a show of US military power.
“It’s not directed towards any particular threat. But it is a demonstration that we can do something that no one else in the world can,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said during a press conference in Washington.
According to a US Navy statement the USS Nimitz, USS Reagan and USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carriers, each escorted by their respective battle groups, have joined the Seventh Fleet, which operates in the Asia-Pacific region.
The maneuver could be interpreted as a show of force against North Korea, whose recent nuclear weapon tests have generated great concerns in the area and provoked an international rejection that has led the UN Security Council to approve several sets of sanctions.
However, these sanctions seem insufficient for US President Donald Trump, who in recent months has been involved in a battle of words with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong-un, which has only increased tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.
“I wouldn’t read anything more to it than it’s just an opportunity to exercise three carrier strike groups together... It doesn’t come along very often but it does demonstrate a unique and powerful capability that has a very significant assurance effect on our allies in the Western Pacific,” Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, the director of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during the press conference.
It is the first time since 2007 that the US Navy has carried out an operation involving three aircraft carriers McKenzie acknowledged, pointing out that this maneuver has “been long scheduled” and “didn’t arise overnight,” although he did not deny that it has been planned because of the tensions with North Korea.
The USS Nimitz and its strike group entered the Western Pacific region on Oct. 25 after operating in the Middle East, according to a Navy press release. The USS Theodore Roosevelt strike group, including a cruiser and three destroyers, entered the region on Oct. 23, joining the USS Ronald Reagan which has been permanently with the 7th Fleet.