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.
The attack on Yeonpyeong has certainly become an international incident. Just after US Gen. Walter Sharp, commander of the 28,000 US troops stationed in South Korea, toured the island Friday morning to inspect the result of the barrage that left homes in flames and four South Koreans dead, North Korea fired menacing artillery rounds that landed off Yeonpyeong's coast.