United States backtracks on 'armada' sailing towards N. Korea

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White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer insisted Wednesday that President Donald Trump didn't mislead or misspeak when he indicated last week that an "armada" was steaming toward North Korea in a show of US military might.

North Korea said it is not afraid of the USS Carl Vinson, following reports the aircraft carrier and its strike group had not been deployed to the Korean peninsula as announced.

On April 15, a Navy photo showed the Carl Vinson south of its base in Singapore when it was supposed to be headed north toward North Korea per Trump's orders. North Korea was about to test a missile, and the Trump administration was ratcheting up US rhetoric about a potential standoff. It was actually about 3,500 miles away from Korea on Saturday and heading in the opposite direction to participate in joint exercises with Australia. "Afterwards, it changed course for unknown reasons, and that created confusion because the US didn't say anything about it". Now, Defense Secretary James Mattis insists the USA is going to send the strike group to North Korea, and that they definitely mean it this time.

The move was apparently made over fears North Korea would carry out a sixth nuclear test.

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So according to Spicer, because the ultimate destination of the Carl Vinson is, in fact, the Korean Peninsula, it didn't matter that the White House did not clarify that the aircraft carrier would not arrive there until later on in the month.

Lawrence Korb, a former U.S. assistant secretary of defense and a retired Navy captain, said the conflicting messages were "very typical of how the Trump administration does business". "The statement that was put out was that the Carl Vinson Group was headed to the Korean Peninsula".

"They are going to start heading north towards the Sea of Japan within next 24 hours", the official said on condition of anonymity.

In a statement to TPM Tuesday, a spokesperson for the U.S. Pacific Command did not acknowledge any scheduling snafu.

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Pentagon chief Jim Mattis on April 11 said the Vinson was "on her way up" to the peninsula.

He also says the era of over-regulation "is over" and Trump aims to bring in a new era of jobs and growth.

Officials said Tuesday that the false narrative about the Carl Vinson resulted from mistakes and miscommunication up the military chain of command to the White House, and was not part of a deliberate military attempt to psych out North Korea's leaders and mislead the public. Pyongyang also attempted to launch missiles, though they exploded shortly after launch.

Critics pounced on the discrepancy as a unsafe miscommunication, saying it fed into North Korea's narrative that America is all bluster and doesn't follow through on threats.

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