The U.S. and South Korean Navies are conducting joint exercises aimed at thwarting North Korean special operations forces.
“The U.S. routinely conducts CSG operations in the waters around the Republic of Korea to exercise maritime maneuvers, strengthen the ROK-U.S. alliance, and improve regional security,” a statement issued by the United States Navy’s Seventh Fleet explained.
“U.S. Navy units participating in this Maritime Counter-Special Operations Exercise (MCSOFEX) are the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) Five, USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), USS Barry (DDG 52), USS Benfold (DDG 65) and staff from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) fifteen and Carrier Strike Group (CSG) Five.”
“Our combined ROK-U.S. naval force is demonstrating its strength and resolve by conducting this exercise together to build our combat readiness,” said Rear Adm. Michael Donnelly, commander, Task Force (CTF) 70/CSG 5.
“The Republic of Korea and U.S. share one of the strongest alliances in the world and we grow stronger as an alliance because of our routine exercises here in South Korea and the close relationship and ties that we forge from operating at sea together.”
The exercises are complex and cover a wide swath of defensive activities. They “consist of routine bilateral training, subject matter expert exchanges, anti-submarine, and anti-surface warfare drills, communication drills, air defense exercises, boarding drills, and combined live fires, as well as formation sailing,” the Seventh Fleet statement explained.
“Additional U.S. Navy commands participating included Commander, Task Force (CTF) 72 and Commander, Task Force (CTF) 74. From the U.S. Army, the Second Combat Air Brigade and U.S. Air Force’s Seventh Air Force joined with units from U.S. Special Operations Command Korea for the exercises.
“This exercise will improve ROK-U.S. combined operational capabilities and bolstered interoperability,” said Rear Adm. Kwak, Kwang Sub, Commander, ROK Navy Maritime Battle Group (MBG) One. “Two navies will continue to maintaining combined naval defense posture based on iron-clad ROK-U.S. alliance.”
Though the United States and South Korea are conducting joint exercises, they’re not the only two navies working together in the region.
On Monday, the U.S. Coast Guard reported that three Chinese vessels and four Russian warships near Alaskan islands in the Bering Strait were observed while a Coast Guard ship was out on routine patrol.
The ships were all “in a single formation with the Renhai [a PRC Guided Missile Cruiser] as a combined surface action group operating in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).” Though the small surface group dispersed, the Coast Guard explained that it would monitor the area to ensure no disruptions to the U.S. exclusive economic zone.
Caleb Larson is a multimedia journalist and defense writer with the National Interest. A graduate of UCLA, he also holds a Master of Public Policy and lives in Berlin. He covers the intersection of conflict, security, and technology, focusing on American foreign policy, European security, and German society for both print and radio. Follow him on Twitter @calebmlarson
Image: Flickr/U.S Navy.