Navy to carry out rare exercise over Sea of Japan

Navy to carry out rare exercise over Sea of Japan

Three US aircraft carrier strike groups will hold joint drills in the Western Pacific, the Pentagon has confirmed.

It's the first time for the U.S.to operate three of its 11 carriers simultaneously in the area since 2007.

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. Multiple American officials have confirmed the planned event to Reuters.

The last time such drills were held was during the Valiant Shield exercises in 2006 and 2007, which took place off the coast of the USA territory of Guam, which hosts two US military bases, and aimed to develop the ability for the three strike groups to quickly work together should it become necessary.

The U.S. has sent a number of its so-called strategic assets to the area - including carriers, heavy bombers and high-tech submarines - as part of a concerted push to heap pressure on North Korea to rein in its nuclear and missile programs.

These weapons tests, along with Trump's belligerent rhetoric, have escalated tensions to unprecedented levels since the end of the Korean War (1950-1953). It comes as the US President continues his Asia tour, reiterating Washington's willingness to use military force against Pyongyang if necessary.

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"It is a rare opportunity to train with two aircraft carriers together, and even rarer to be able to train with three", said U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander, Adm. Scott Swift.

Singapore-based military expert Tim Huxley said the presence of the US carriers still sent an unmistakable message, with each one carrying 70-odd aircraft.

Trump also noted that the three USA aircraft carriers "are appropriately positioned" near the Korean Peninsula.

Given the close geographical proximity and longstanding diplomatic ties, war with North Korea would nearly inevitably lead to war with China, another nuclear armed state.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, on a trip late last month to South Korea, was at pains to stress that diplomacy was America's preferred course to get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

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