US military asserts Indo-Pacific presence with simultaneous high-end operations


The United States demonstrated its ability to project its military power in the Indo-Pacific on 9 February, when two US Navy (USN) carrier strike groups conducted joint operations in the South China Sea while participants of an ongoing US Air Force (USAF)-led multilateral exercise at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, flew in formation on the same day.

The Nimitz strike group includes the Ticonderoca-class guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett, while the Theodore Roosevelt strike group includes the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill and guided-missile destroyers USS John Finn and USS Russell.

“The ships and aircraft of the two strike groups coordinated operations in a highly trafficked area to demonstrate the US Navy’s ability to operate in challenging environments,” the USN said in a statement. The service had previously conducted two-carrier operations with USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan in the South China Sea in July 2020.

“Through operations like this, we ensure that we are tactically proficient to meet the challenge of maintaining peace and we are able to continue to show our partners and allies in the region that we are committed to promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Rear Admiral Doug Verissimo, commander of the Roosevelt strike group, noted in the same statement.

The two-carrier exercise happened just days after the Arleigh-Burke destroyer USS John S. McCain conducted a back-to-back Taiwan Strait transit and freedom-of-navigation operation in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, the USAF is hosting the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), and elements from the USN and US Marine Corps at Exercise Cope North 2021, an annual multinational exercise designed to increase capabilities and improve interoperability among partner nations. This year’s edition commenced on 3 February and will end on 19 February, involving more than 2,000 personnel and around 95 aircraft.

by Jr Ng