Home News World US steps up force deployment in Indo-Pacific, sends super carriers

US steps up force deployment in Indo-Pacific, sends super carriers

The US has increased its presence in the Indo-Pacific region in the wake of growing Chinese aggression at a time when the world is fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

A press release issued by the US Pacific Fleet said, “(Currently the) USS Nimitz and Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Groups are conducting dual carrier operations in the Philippine Sea. The ships and aircraft assigned to both strike groups began coordinated operations in international waters on June 28.”

“The US Navy remains mission ready and globally deployed. Dual carrier operations demonstrate our commitment to regional allies, our ability to rapidly mass combat power in the Indo-Pacific, and our readiness to confront all those who challenge international norms that support regional stability,” said Rear Admiral George Wikoff, Commander Carrier Strike Group 5.

Keeping its commitment to ensuring “freedom of navigation” and adherence to “international rules-based order”, the statement said, “While deployed, the Carrier Strike Force is conducting integrated exercises and operations that maintain responsive, flexible, and enduring commitments to mutual defence agreements with allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific.”

This comes after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said that the US was reviewing its global deployment of forces to ensure it is postured appropriately to counter China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), given the increasing threat posed by China to Asian countries like India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

“We’re going to make sure we’re postured appropriately to counter the PLA. We think that the challenge of our times, and we’re going to make sure we have resources in place to do that,” Pompeo said.

The question was raised with Washington reducing its troops’ strength in Germany from about 52,000 to 25,000. The force posture review is being done at the direction of President Donald Trump.

In a scathing attack on the Chinese government, Pompeo said that the Communist Party of China was changing the rules of engagement in the international waters and the territorial claims of Beijing were only increasing.

Mentioning the recent border tensions with India, he said that China was using “brutal military force” to lay claim to territories across land and sea.

“The PLA (People’s Liberation Army) has escalated border tensions with India, the world’s most populous democracy. It’s militarising the South China Sea and illegally claiming more territory there, threatening vital sea lanes,” Pompeo said.

“We aggressively seek out every opportunity to advance and strengthen our capabilities and proficiency at conducting all-domain warfighting operations,” said Rear Admiral George Wikoff.

US Navy aircraft carriers have conducted dual carrier strike group operations in the Western Pacific, including the South China Sea and Philippine Sea for years.

“Only the US Navy can integrate a carrier strike force on this scale and consistently project power to protect freedom of the seas,” said Rear Admiral James Kirk, Commander, Carrier Strike Group 11.

While USS Nimitz and Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Groups, there are reports that place the USS Theodore Roosevelt moving southwards to Vietnam.

With three US super carriers in the region, it is a strong signal to China to stop the strong-arm tactics, else there would be consequences.

Background

  • In November 2018, the Ronald Reagan and John C Stennis Carrier Strike Groups conducted combined operations in the Philippine Sea.
  • In September 2014, The George Washington and Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Groups operated in the South China Sea and East China Sea.
  • In 2009, The George Washington and Nimitz 2 Carrier Strike Groups operated together in the Western Pacific.
  • In 2001, the Constellation and Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Groups operated together in the South China Sea.

The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group consists of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17, the guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59), the guided-missile destroyers USS Sterett (DDG 104), and USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114).

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group consists of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54), and guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89), and is forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan and routinely conducts security and stability operations in the Indo-Pacific.

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