Japan Earthquake Mission Reduces Scale of Korea-U.S. Drills

      March 14, 2011 08:12

      The 97,000-ton nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan will probably not take part in annual joint Korea-U.S. exercises after all due to Friday's earthquake in Japan.

      The Reagan was expected to lead a fleet of Aegis destroyers and cruisers in the exercise dubbed "Foal Eagle" from Wednesday, a military source said Sunday. But the Reagan, and its sister ship the USS George Washington of the Seventh U.S. Fleet were urgently dispatched to areas hit by the earthquake for rescue and relief operations.

      This image provided by the U.S. Navy shows the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan en route to provide assistance in Japan following Friday's massive earthquake and tsunami. /Reuters-Newsis

      The exercise will likely be downscaled.

      Some 10,500 U.S. troops were expected to participate in this year's drill, with about 6,000 aboard the USS Ronald Reagan and about 300 crewmen of each Aegis destroyer.

      And some of the U.S. marines stationed in Okinawa who were expected to take part will also likely be sent to help rescue operations for earthquake victims.

      "As of now, the participation of the USS Ronald Reagan has become unclear, but there is no change in the other parts of the exercise plan," a spokesman for the Combined Forces Command said.

      The drills continue until April 30.

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