US, S. Korea start drills in show of force against N. Korea - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

US, S. Korea start drills in show of force against N. Korea

(Jo Jung-ho/Yonhap via AP, File). FILE - In this Oct. 21, 2017 file photo, the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) is escorted into Busan port, South Korea, after completing a joint drill with the South Korean military. (Jo Jung-ho/Yonhap via AP, File). FILE - In this Oct. 21, 2017 file photo, the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) is escorted into Busan port, South Korea, after completing a joint drill with the South Korean military.

By KIM TONG-HYUNG
Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - The United States and South Korea on Saturday started joint naval exercises that will involve three U.S. aircraft carriers in what military officials describe as a clear warning to North Korea.

The four-day drills that began in waters off South Korea's eastern coast come as President Donald Trump continues a visit to Asia that has been dominated by discussions over the North Korean nuclear threat.

The battle groups of the USS Ronald Reagan, the Theodore Roosevelt and the Nimitz will successively enter the exercise area during the drills that run until Tuesday, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The three carriers will be likely together in the drills around Monday, according to a South Korean military official, who didn't want to be named, citing office rules.

The exercises will also involve 11 U.S. Aegis ships and seven South Korean naval vessels, including two Aegis ships. The Aegis technology refers to missile tracking and guidance.

They will aim to enhance combined operation and aerial strike capabilities and also display "strong will and firm military readiness to defeat any provocation by North Korea with dominant force in the event of crisis," Seoul's military said in a statement.

It's the first time since a 2007 exercise near Guam that three U.S. carrier strike groups are operating together in the Western Pacific, according to the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet. The U.S. carriers will also participate in separate exercises with three Japanese destroyers on Sunday, according to Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force.

The United States has been sending its strategic assets, also including long-range bombers, to the region more frequently for patrols or drills amid accelerating North Korean efforts to expand its nuclear weapons program.

In recent months, North Korea has tested intercontinental ballistic missiles that could reach the U.S. mainland with further development and has conducted its most powerful nuclear test. It also flew two new midrange missiles over Japan and threatened to launch them toward Guam, a U.S. Pacific territory and military hub.

Trump continued his tough talk against Pyongyang on Friday in a speech to business leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Danang, Vietnam, saying that the region's future "must not be held hostage to a dictator's twisted fantasies of violent conquest and nuclear blackmail," referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump had also delivered a sharp warning to North Korea in a speech at South Korea's parliament on Wednesday, telling the country: "Do not underestimate us. And do not try us."

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • National politicsMore>>

  • Rev Jesse Jackson discloses Parkinson's disease diagnosis

    Rev Jesse Jackson discloses Parkinson's disease diagnosis

    Friday, November 17 2017 12:59 PM EST2017-11-17 17:59:15 GMT
    Saturday, November 18 2017 10:33 AM EST2017-11-18 15:33:04 GMT
    The Rev. Jesse Jackson says he's been seeking outpatient care for over two years for Parkinson's disease and plans to "dedicate" himself physical therapy.
    The Rev. Jesse Jackson says he's been seeking outpatient care for over two years for Parkinson's disease and plans to "dedicate" himself physical therapy.
  • Florida Democratic Party chair resigns over sexual behavior

    Florida Democratic Party chair resigns over sexual behavior

    Friday, November 17 2017 12:02 PM EST2017-11-17 17:02:31 GMT
    Saturday, November 18 2017 10:33 AM EST2017-11-18 15:33:02 GMT

    Four Democratic candidates for Florida governor are asking for the state party chairman to step down after a report that he makes women feel uncomfortable.

    Four Democratic candidates for Florida governor are asking for the state party chairman to step down after a report that he makes women feel uncomfortable.

  • Montana congressman misled authorities on reporter's assault

    Montana congressman misled authorities on reporter's assault

    Friday, November 17 2017 8:09 PM EST2017-11-18 01:09:20 GMT
    Saturday, November 18 2017 10:33 AM EST2017-11-18 15:33:01 GMT
    Law enforcement officials in Montana have released a trove of materials from their investigation into a Republican House candidate who assaulted a reporter on the eve of his election to the U.S. House.
    Law enforcement officials in Montana have released a trove of materials from their investigation into a Republican House candidate who assaulted a reporter on the eve of his election to the U.S. House.
Powered by Frankly