Military Capabilities

US again stresses FONOPS in Western Pacific

26 October 2017

The United States now has three carrier groups in the Pacific amid heightened tensions in the region and as US President Donald Trump readies for a trip there, but the Pentagon said the timing was coincidental.

US officials said the concentration of carrier forces is due simply to a confluence of deployment scheduling. However, they also noted the US Navy (USN) plans to enforce its right to sail and fly wherever it needs to, and there are resurgent efforts to publicise freedom of navigation operations (FONOPS).

Such efforts have been noticed by US allies and partners in the region.

Speaking on 19 October at an Atlantic Council Asia-Pacific Strategy Task Force event, Singapore's ambassador to the United States, Ashok Kumar Mirpuri, said such “high-profile” US FONOPS had “regularised freedom of navigation operations around the world”.

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