This file photo taken on April 26, 2017 shows ROK and US soldiers watching from an observation post during a joint live firing drill between the ROK and the US at the Seungjin Fire Training Field in Pocheon, 65 kms northeast of Seoul. (JUNG YEON-JE / AFP)
SEOUL – The Republic of Korea and the United States staged their first combined military exercises involving an American aircraft carrier in more than four years, Seoul's military said on Saturday.
The three-day drills took place in international waters off the Japanese island of Okinawa until Saturday, including air defense, anti-ship, anti-submarine, and maritime interdiction operations, the ROK's Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
It was the allies' first joint military exercise since the ROK's President Yoon Suk-yeol took office last month, and their first bilateral exercises involving an aircraft carrier since November 2017
The USS Ronald Reagan, a 100,000-ton nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, joined the drills, alongside the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam, the Aegis-equipped USS Benfold destroyer, and the Fleet replenishment oiler USNS Big Horn, the JCS said.
The ROK also sent the 14,500-ton Marado amphibious landing ship, the 7,600-ton Sejong the Great destroyer, and the 4,400-ton Munmu the Great destroyer, among others.
It was the allies' first joint military exercise since the ROK's President Yoon Suk-yeol took office last month, and their first bilateral exercises involving an aircraft carrier since November 2017.
"The exercise consolidated the two countries' determination to sternly respond to any North Korean provocations, while demonstrating the US commitment to provide extended deterrence," the JCS said in a statement. The DPRK is also referred to as North Korea.
The DPRK has long criticized the US-ROK joint military drills as a rehearsal for war.
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