Where is the US Naval Armada?
It Takes Time to Re-Deploy a Carrier Strike Group
So-called analysts have tried to make capital out of what they call “confusing or deceptive messages” about a U.S. naval “armada” heading to waters off the Korean peninsula which undermines the United States’ credible threat of military force against North Korea.
“We are Sending an Armada”
U.S. President Donald Trump said on April 12, “We are sending an armada. Very powerful.”
At the time, the USS Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group was far south in the Indian Ocean, where it was engaged in training exercises with the Australian navy. U.S. Pacific Command said on Tuesday, April 18, that the strike group was now proceeding to the Western Pacific as ordered.
The earlier reports of the U.S. carrier group moving toward Korea raised concerns that Trump might launch a unilateral military strike to prevent or retaliate against a possible North Korean nuclear test on April 15, the birthday of the nation’s founder Kim Il Sung, that is often celebrated by a provocative weapons test.
In what is widely regarded as a back down, North Korea did not conduct a nuclear test that weekend. North Korea did put on a massive military parade as expected and attempted another balistic missile test. The missile test failed.
“Ovewhelming and Effective American Response”
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence repeated stern warnings to Pyongyang that he made earlier in Seoul and Tokyo, not to test America’s resolve, Wednesday, when he addressed U.S. military forces aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, a Nimitz class aircraft carrier undergoing maintenance in Yokosuka, Japan. He again referenced Trump’s decisions to launch missile strikes in Syria and Afghanistan, and said the United States is fully prepared to use military force if needed.
“Those who challenge our resolve or our readiness should know, we will defeat any attack and meet any challenge and use conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective American response,” the vice president said.
Trump Opponents Serving Up Fake News
Voice of America claims that “the perceived communications mix-up discredits some of the tough rhetoric coming from the Trump administration.” There was no communications mix-up. The Voice of America was once widely seen as a U.S. state propaganda outlet: it now seems to be running its own agenda.
VoA quoted another North Korea expert, Joel Wit at the 38 North monitoring group, run by Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies: “If you threaten them and your threat is not credible, it’s only going to undermine whatever your policy toward them is.”
While this is true, the threat is credible and is on its way.
Clearly, the U.S. North Korean strategy is to use the threat of military force to increase pressure on Pyongyang to unilaterally dismantle its nuclear and missile arsenals, and to urge China, for the most part, to take stronger measures to force its economically dependent ally to capitulate or face total collapse.
For this policy to be effective the threat of force must be credible, said analyst Bong Young-shik with the Yonsei University Institute for North Korean Studies in Seoul. “Without taking the risk of military action on the Korean Peninsula you cannot really dissuade the leadership in Pyongyang from continuously pursuing and possessing nuclear weapons and missile programs,” he said.
Again, true. Again, this is what the U.S. is doing.
So why all the hot air from analysts? Or is it down to the media asking leading qestions?
Misunderstanding of Naval Operations
What all the so-called experts seem to have missed, and much of the media has conveniently ignored, is that it takes time to re-deploy a carrier strike group.
The U.S. Navy’s Carrier Strike Group 1 comrpises flagship USS Carl Vinson, USS Lake Champlain, USS Wayne E. Meyer, and USS Michael Murphy, and the six-ship strong Destroyer Squadron 1. The largest vessel, the USS Carl Vinson, has a crew of over 6,000 personnel. This is a sizeable force and inevitably cannot be turned around like a powerboat.
Opponents of President Trump are presenting this turn-around time as a “delay” or “confusion” in an attempt to discredit his administration. Trump is sending an armada. Any delay was to be expected as the strike group re-defines its mission and disengages from current operations.
The USS Carl Vinson Strike Group commander, Rear Admiral James Kilby, announced on the carrier’s Facebook page late evening, April 18, that:
Our deployment has been extended 30 days to provide a persistent presence in the Waters off the Korean Peninsula. While all of us look forward to being connected with our friends and families, our nation requires us to be its flexible force, the away team, and as we have done time and time again through history, we won’t let her down now.
The problem with the media’s fake news is that it not only hurts the Trump administration as intended, but it also destroys U.S. international credibility regardless of political persuasion and undermines the dangerous missions that U.S. military personnel undertake to protect their country. The U.S. Navy will not let her down, but the U.S. media clearly already have.