“While planned well before [Tuesday’s] unprovoked artillery attack, [the joint exercise] demonstrates the strength” of the US-South Korean alliance, according to a statement released Wednesday by the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet.
The exercise, in the wake of what is widely considered the region's most dramatic flare-up since the Korean War ended in a cease-fire, “is meant to send a very strong signal of deterrence,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen told CNN this week.
That said, he added, “We’re very focused on restraint – not letting this thing get out of control. The South Koreans have so far responded that way. Nobody wants this thing to turn into a conflict.”
An aircraft carrrier, the USS George Washington, and four other US Navy ships are currently making their way toward the Yellow Sea to take part in the training exercises. They will include air defense and also surface warfare readiness training, according to the US military, which “maintains a robust forward presence in the Asia-Pacific region,” the Seventh Fleet release further noted. These exercises will last until Dec. 1 and may involve air defense and submarine drills, as well as test-firing the ships' weapons, including dummy torpedos, according to US Navy officials.