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S. Korea, US stage combined naval exercise in East Sea

The US Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), steams in waters east of the Korean peninsula, Sept. 28. The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is participating with the ROK Navy in Maritime Counter Special Operations Exercise (MCSOFEX) to strengthen interoperability and training. (US Navy)
The US Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), steams in waters east of the Korean peninsula, Sept. 28. The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is participating with the ROK Navy in Maritime Counter Special Operations Exercise (MCSOFEX) to strengthen interoperability and training. (US Navy)

South Korea and the United States began another joint naval exercise, involving a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, in waters east of the Korean Peninsula on Friday in order to reinforce the allies' operational capabilities against North Korean provocations, Seoul's military said.

The allies' navies kicked off the two-day maritime maneuvering drills in the international waters of the East Sea with a plan to stage operations later to escort the USS Ronald Reagan down to waters southeast of the southern island of Jeju, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

The previous day, the allies and Japan conducted a trilateral exercise in the East Sea in a joint response to the North's launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) that overflew the Japanese archipelago Tuesday.

For the exercise, Seoul deployed the Munmu the Great destroyer and the Donghae frigate, while Washington deployed the aircraft carrier; the USS Chancellorsville, a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser; and the USS Barry, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer.

"We will continuously strengthen our firm operational capabilities and posture to respond to any North Korean provocations through this combined exercise featuring the aircraft carrier strike group redeployed to the peninsula as a measure to reinforce the execution power of America's extended deterrence," the JCS said in a press release.

Extended deterrence refers to Washington's commitment to mobilizing a full range of its military capabilities, including nuclear options, to defend its ally.

The USS Ronald Reagan returned to the East Sea on Wednesday following the North's IRBM launch. It left the waters last week following a naval exercise with the South Korean Navy and then trilateral drills with the South and Japan. (Yonhap)

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