White House Misled Public About Defensive Measures Against North Korea

Nick Mcbride
April 21, 2017

On April 8th, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris, ordered the Vinson's strike group, which consists of the guided missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain and the guided missile destroyers USS Michael P. Murphy and USS Wayne E. Meyer, to cancel scheduled port visits in Australia and instead operate in the "western Pacific " which includes Korea.

White House officials said on Tuesday (April 18) they were relying on guidance from the Defence Department.

The White House announcement about the nuclear-armed strike force sparked fears across East Asia about a looming catastrophe - as rising tensions between the North and the United States dominated the news.

At the time of the strike group's deployment, many media outlets said the ships were steaming toward North Korea, when in fact they had temporarily headed in the opposite direction.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un responded with his own fiery warnings and threatened to conduct weekly missile tests.

Team Trump declared last week that it was sending North Korea a tough message when the U.S. diverted an aircraft carrier strike force toward the Korean Peninsula - but the ships were actually thousands of miles away and heading in the opposite direction.

The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group with South Korean vessels on patrol east of the Korean peninsula in March.

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"The forward deployment is deterrence, presence".

The United States ratcheted up its rhetoric ahead of North Korea's military parade and failed missile launch over the weekend, and Vice President Mike Pence on Monday declared that the era of U.S. "strategic patience" in dealing with Pyongyang was over.

"But I think when you see a carrier group steaming into an area like that, the forward presence of that is clearly, through nearly every instance, a huge deterrence", he added.

The day before Trump's Fox Business interview aired, Press Secretary Sean Spicer also seemed to confirm the strike group was on the way to North Korea, saying during a news conference that "a carrier group is several things". So I think it serves multiple capabilities'.

Joel Wit, a co-founder of the 38 North programme of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, said the matter was "very perplexing" and fed into North Korea's narrative that America is all bluster and doesn't follow through on threats.

A key to unraveling the confusion, the Times reports, was a photo taken Saturday and posted online by the Navy on Monday showing the Carl Vision sailing through Indonesian islands thousands of miles away from North Korea.

Other reports by VgToday

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