US Carrier Heads to Korean Waters

Military exercises to 'demonstrate strength of alliance'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 24, 2010 5:49 AM CST
US Carrier Heads to Korean Waters
A US Marine Corps C-130 Hercules aircraft leads a formation of jets over the aircraft carrier USS George Washington in the East Sea off the Korean peninsula earlier this year.   (AP Photo/U.S. Navy, Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Charles Oki)

The USS George Washington left a naval base in Japan today, bound for Korean waters to carry out joint exercises with the South Korean military. US officials say that while the 4 days of military exercises set to begin on Sunday were "planned well before yesterday's unprovoked artillery attack, it demonstrates the strength of the South Korea-US alliance and our commitment to regional stability through deterrence," the BBC reports.

The nuclear-powered carrier, which has a crew of more than 6,000, took part in similar exercises with the South Korean military earlier this year. Analysts say joint US-Korean naval exercises may have provoked the North Korean regime into taking a more aggressive stance, although officials admit they are often baffled by Pyongyang's motives. "I don't know the answer to any question about North Korea that begins with the word 'why,'" Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters. (Read more North Korea stories.)

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