According to U.S. media, two U.S. Navy aircraft carrier battle groups and a Marine Corps air-ground task force have begun operating in the Western Pacific.
The groups have just completed a U.S.-Japan island defense exercise near Guam. TIME magazine says U.S. navy officials have confirmed the USS George Washington carrier strike group has begun operating in the East China Sea. And the USS John C. Stennis group is only slightly further away in the South China Sea. Each aircraft carrier is armed with more than 80 warplanes, and strike groups typically include guided-missile cruisers and destroyers, submarines and supply ships.
In the nearby Philippine Sea, some 2,200 Marines are embarked aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard amphibious assault ship and two frigates. The Marines are equipped with amphibious assault vehicles, light armored vehicles, artillery, helicopters and Harrier fighter jets.