USS Theodore Roosevelt to Depart Busan on Wednesday for Freedom Edge Exercise, Say Officials

June 25, 2024 4:01 PM
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) transits the South China Sea, June 11, 2024. US Navy Photo

The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (CSG) will depart Busan on Wednesday to take part in the inaugural U.S.-South Korea-Japan multi-domain exercise Freedom Edge said Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Tuesday during a visit of carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71).

Meanwhile, the U.S. Marine Corps and Japan Ground Self Defense Force have announced that they will carry out joint drills around Japan’s southwest islands that will begin on Friday while People’s Liberation Army Navy Dongdiao class surveillance ships and a Chinese unmanned aerial vehicle have been sighted operating around Japan.

On Tuesday, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol visited carrier Theodore Roosevelt while it was docked in Busan, South Korea and made a speech to the crew.

“Tomorrow, the Roosevelt departs to participate in Freedom Edge, the first-ever trilateral multi-domain military exercise between the United States, South Korea, Japan, and South Korea,”, said Yoon according to a release.
“Our shared liberal democratic values, along with our alliance, will serve as another powerful deterrent.”

Theodore Roosevelt with embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 and destroyers USS Halsey (DDG-97) and USS Daniel Inouye (DDG-118) docked into Busan Naval Base on Saturday morning for a port visit. USNI News reported on Saturday that the CSG will head to the Red Sea following the completion of the Freedom Edge exercise.

In his regular press conference on Tuesday, Japan Defense Minister Minoru Kihara declined to disclose when Freedom Edge would take place, stating that his Ministry was in the middle of close coordination with the U.S. and South Korea on the exercise and thus unable to provide a reply on the exercise’s timing and what activities would be carried out in it. Kihara also was asked about North Korea’s potential reaction drill and replied, “As for North Korea’s reaction to the planned training, we cannot give a pre judgmental answer, but this training is not intended for any specific country or region,” he said.

In his regular press conference on Tuesday, Japan Defense Minister Minoru Kihara said in meetings with South Korea and the U.S. have recognized the challenging security environment and it was necessary to strengthen the organized capabilities and cooperation of the three countries.

“To this end, we will continue to strengthen trilateral security cooperation, including the implementation of trilateral joint exercises such as Freedom Edge,” Kihara said.

Kihara also said in the press conference that both Japan and the U.S. will take all possible measures to ensure the safety of the MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor flights during the U.S. Marine Corps –JGSDF joint exercise Resolute Dragon 24 in which Ospreys from both forces will participate.

Both the Marine Corps and JGSDF issued separate releases on Friday on the exercise that starts on Aug. 7. A Marine Corps release stated that approximately 3,000 U.S. Marines and sailors from III Marine Expeditionary Force will train alongside their counterparts from the JGSDF Western Army, various units from the Japan Self-Defense Force, and the U.S. Joint Force, “to rehearse and strengthen their multi-domain maneuver capabilities and combined arms integration.”. The release also stated that the annual exercise, now in its fourth iteration, will take place across multiple training areas in Japan including Chugoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa prefecture, “demonstrating our ability to respond to crisis across the Indo-Pacific.”

The JGSDF said that the exercise was based on the JGSDF’s Cross Domain Operations in island defense and the Marine Corps Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations doctrines and that the joint training builds guidelines between the two forces at the operational and tactical levels. The 7th Surface-to-Ship Missile Regiment of the 2nd Artillery Brigade, which was newly formed in March this year, will participate for the first time, and the JGSDF V-22 will participate in this exercise for the second time in a row, according to the release.

In other developments, Japan’s Joint Staff Office reported People’s Liberation Army Navy Dongdiao class surveillance ships and a Chinese unmanned aerial vehicle have been sighted operating around Japan.

Dongdiao class surveillance ship Beijixing (791) path on June 22, 2024. 

On Monday, the JSO said on Saturday at 5 p.m. PLAN Dongdiao class surveillance ship Beijixing (791) was sighted sailing northwest in an area 68 miles northeast of Miyako Island. The PLAN surveillance ship then sailed northwest through the Miyako Strait which lies between Miyako Island and Okinawa, to enter the East China Sea. Japan Maritime Self Defense Forces minesweeper JS Yakushima (MSC-602) and a JMSDF P-1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 1 based at JMSDF Kanoya Air Base on the main island of Kyushu carried out surveillance on Beijixing.

Earlier on Friday, the JSO said Dongdiao class surveillance ship Jinxing (799) was sighted that day at 11 a.m. sailing northeast in an area 31 miles southwest of Tsushima and subsequently sailed northeast through the Tsushima Strait to enter the Sea of Japan. Fast attack craft JS Shirataka (PG-829) and a JMSDF P-1 MPA from Fleet Air Wing 4 based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi on the main island of Honshu shadowed the PLAN surveillance ship, according to the release.

On Monday, the JSO issued a release that updated the movements of Jinxing, stating that on Sunday at 11 p.m., the PLAN surveillance ship was sighted sailing east in an area 31 miles south of Oshima Island which lies 31 miles off the southwest coast of the main island of Hokkaido. The JSO reported that Jinxing subsequently from Sunday to Monday sailed east through the Tsugaru Strait which separates the main islands of Honshu and Hokkaido and entered the Pacific Ocean. The release stated that the PLAN surveillance ship was shadowed by fast attack craft JS Wakataka (PG-825) and JMSDF P-3C Orions MPAs of Fleet Air Wing 2 based at JMSDF Hachinohe Air Base on the main island of Honshu.

On Tuesday the JSO issued a release stating that in the afternoon of that day, a Chinese WZ-7 UAV flew in from the Chinese mainland, circled over the East China Sea, and flew to the sea off the northwest coast of the island of Amami Oshima, it then turned around and headed north, circled again over the East China Sea, and finally headed northwest toward the continent. In response fighter jets from the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) Western Air District were scrambled, according to the release.

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir is a freelance defense journalist and analyst based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Among the publications he has written for and currently writes for since 1998 includes Defence Review Asia, Jane’s Defence Weekly, Navy International, International Defence Review, Asian Defence Journal, Defence Helicopter, Asian Military Review and the Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter.

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