The South Korean and U.S. navies on Monday kicked off massive combined drills off the coast of the peninsula amid heightened tensions. The allies plan to continue the Maritime Counter Special Operations Exercise (MCSOFEX) through Friday in the East Sea and the Yellow Sea, also known as the West Sea. It involves the U.S. 7th Fleet’s aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers — the USS Stethem (DDG-63) and the USS Mustin (DDG-89). The carrier strike

group will train with South Korean warships and other defense assets, such as the Sejong the Great Aegis ship and P-3 Orion anti-submarine aircraft in the East Sea. A unit of U.S. special forces tasked with carrying out “decapitation” operations is aboard a nuclear-powered submarine in the group, according to a defense source. Among other assets mobilized are F-15K, FA-18 and A-10 fighter jets, as well as AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, Lynx and AW-159 Wild Cat naval choppers. READ MORE