With multiple recent ballistic missile tests by the North Koreans adding to ongoing tensions between the reclusive state and its southern neighbors, South Korea and the United States have begun annual military drills intended to help prepare the nations for the possibility of war with Kim Jong Un’s regime – and the arrival of the American aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson seems to have the North spooked a bit more than usual.
The Carl Vinson, a Nimitz Class, nuclear powered aircraft carrier began sea operations by launching a volley of F-18 fighter jets from its deck on Monday in a dramatic display of American firepower. While such a display isn’t uncommon in this area of the world, events leading up to this exercise have drawn more attention to the annual training operation than normal – events like North Korea’s two nuclear tests and multiple missile launches since these exercises took place last year.
“While this is a routine deployment for the Carl Vinson strike group, really the centerpiece for us … is this exercise we’re doing with the ROK (Republic of Korea) navy called ‘Foal Eagle’,” Rear Admiral James W. Kilby, commander of the Carrier Strike Group 1, told reporters.
Of course, despite these exercises being relatively routine, it hasn’t stopped North Korean officials from overreacting via official statement, levying aggressive warnings at South Korea and the United States via their state news agency, KCNA. According to the government’s official statement, the Carl Vinson’s arrival in the seas off of the Korean peninsula are a part of a “reckless scheme” by the allied nations to attack North Korea.