President Trump agreed in September 2017 to send more of the Pentagon’s “strategic assets” to South Korea on a rotational basis to deter North Korean provocations, but what exactly that means remains something of a mystery.
The U.S. assets — typically defined as submarines, aircraft carriers, nuclear weapons or bombers — have long been involved in the standoff that began with the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement after open warfare subsided between the two Koreas.
The U.S. Navy typically keeps the movements of its submarines secret, but it also has periodically sent them to port in South Korea. The USS Michigan, an Ohio-class nuclear-powered submarine, has appeared at Busan Naval Base in South Korea at least twice in 2017. It is capable of carrying cruise missiles and elite Navy SEALs, although not ballistic missiles.
More recently, the Navy announced last week it has plans for a massive exercise involving three aircraft carriers — the USS Nimitz, the USS Theodore Roosevelt and the USS Ronald Reagan — and their associated strike groups, each of which include dozens of aircraft and thousands of sailors and Marines.
Excerpts from Dan Lamothe, In standoff with North Korea, the U.S. keeps deployment of ‘strategic assets’ mysterious, Washington Post, Oct. 29, 2017