USS George Washington
The USS George Washington and the USS John C. Stennisaircraft carrier strike groups (CSGs), a flotilla of five ships and more than 10,000 Navy personnel are now operating in the conflict ridden South China Sea area.
The news was announced by the Navy a few days ago, but is now making the rounds in Asian media outlets, and generating as much speculation as it is concern.
The Washington will be operating in the East China Sea near the disputed Diaoyutai islands controlled by Japan, but claimed by both Taiwan and China.
The Stennis will be operating south of the Diaoyutai’s in the South China Sea, where territorial disputes between China and its regional neighbors have been making headlines for months.
There is speculation that the carrier assignments could just be coincidence, and while that’s possible it’s just as likely that the U.S. is doing it’s part to fulfill three separate treaty obligations to allies in the region.
Ralph Jennings at The Christian Science Monitor points out that the U.S. is “obligated by security pacts or acts of Congress to help defend Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines – all located off the east coast of rising military power and US cold-war rival China.”
In addition to the carrier groups, and two air wings comprising about 120 aircraft, Focus Taiwan reports the amphibious assault ship the USS Bonhomme Richard and two escorts are operating in the nearby Philippine Sea.
Whether the U.S. is looking to reassure Japan, keep China in check, or simply rotating ships around a new schedule, there’s little doubt many are taking consolation in the fact that the U.S. generally deploys three carriers to a region when planning for war
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