Compass Error: Carrier Battle Group Was 3,500 Miles From North Korea

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When the star of ‘Presidential Apprentice’ said that a “very powerful” “armada” was on its way to the Sea of Japan in response to North Korea’s planned missile test, the American ships were actually going in the opposite direction.

According to the New York Times, the USS Carl Vinson and her four escorts are finally on their way north for real now. Scheduled port calls have been canceled.

But while headlines about Donald Trump’s provocative decision blared around the world last week, the ships were really sailing into the Indian Ocean for an exercise with the Australian Navy.

White House officials said on Tuesday they were relying on guidance from the Defense Department. Officials there described a glitch-ridden sequence of events, from a premature announcement of the deployment by the military’s Pacific Command to an erroneous explanation by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — all of which perpetuated the false narrative that an American armada was racing toward the waters off North Korea.

[…] The White House declined to comment on the misunderstanding, referring all questions to the Pentagon. “Sean discussed it once when asked, and it was all about process,” said a spokesman, Michael Short.

Privately, however, other officials expressed bewilderment that the Pentagon did not correct its timeline, particularly given the tensions surging in the region and the fact that Mr. Spicer, as well as the national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, were publicly answering questions about it.

“We are sending an armada, very powerful,” Trump told Fox Business News last Wednesday. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer also spoke to reporters about the carrier battle group’s supposed mission against North Korea, saying that the regime was “clearly on notice” that the United States will not tolerate their ambition to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile.

But on Saturday, the US Navy released a photograph of the Carl Vinson steaming though Indonesian waters, thousands of miles away from the Korean peninsula.

Stars and Stripes says at top speed, the carrier and her escorts should reach the Sea of Japan in “four to five days,” arriving more than a week after North Korea’s missile test fizzled.

Trump had intended to show what a masculine, aggressive commander-in-chief he is. But this fiasco has merely deepened the impression that a petulant fool and his bumbling administration are putting America and her allies at risk with their brinkmanship.


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