Three US aircraft carriers to join show-of-force drills with S


Assigned Strike force Units will conduct series of operations in global waters to practice the US Naval force's unique ability to operate different carrier strike groups as a fully coordinated military team.

But, according to Japanese and South Korean diplomatic sources, the proposal to include Japan's Self-Defense Forces was met with resistance from Seoul, possibly out of concern for relations with China.

"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, Admiral Scott Swift.

A three-carrier show of force - the USS Ronald Reagan, USS Theodore Roosevelt, and USS Nimitz - was displayed by the U.S. Navy in the western Pacific Ocean over the weekend while performing exercises with South Korea and Japanese ships.

The US began the four-day exercises on Saturday in a show of military force meant to pressure North Korea, which is pursuing its nuclear and missile development programmes despite worldwide condemnation.

Japan's Maritime Self-Defence Force said three escort vessels - the Ise, Makinami and Inazuma - carried out the drill with the United States flat-tops Ronald Reagan, Nimitz and Theodore Roosevelt - the first three-carrier exercise in the western Pacific since 2007.

The Reagan participated in the 2006 exercises, the Nimitz in 2007.

A South Korean Defense Ministry official said the three U.S. carriers held drills on either side of the waters separating the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

The drill is the first in a decade in the region involving a three-carrier strike force.

The South Korean government has announced that military cooperation with Japan and the USA will not develop into an alliance.

Pyongyang charged that America and its allies are trying to "escalate the military tension and increase arms race in the region with each passing day", CNN wrote.

"The combined drills are to present our resolve and will to deter North Korea's provocations and retaliate if provoked", Yonhap quoted a South Korean official as saying.

The presence of the three-carrier flotilla in Pacific waters is seen as a signal to North Korea that the United States will not be intimidated by Pyongyang's continued testing of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Seoul also expressed reservations about Japan taking part in joint exercises conducted by the U.S., South Korea and Australia off the island of Jeju on November 6 and 7.

A video of the three carriers sailing with its strike groups off the Korean peninsula was posted on YouTube by the U.S. Navy Institute Sunday.