Make of it what you may, but there are now three U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and associated battle groups in the 7th Fleet’s area of operation (AOR), which includes the South China Sea and waters off of North Korea.

The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) is the Navy’s forward-deployed carrier for the 7th Fleet. But now it will be joined by the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) coming from the east, as the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) enters from the west.

“It does send a significant signal,” said Adam Mount, a defense analyst and senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists.

“It is a major projection of force any time a carrier moves into a region,” Mount said. “US adversaries will read something into it.”

CNN military analyst John Kirby, a former US Navy admiral, said that the presence of three carrier groups sends a message to both China and North Korea. Former Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that the Navy could be “taking advantage of a scheduling overlap to demonstrate its capabilities to potential adversaries.”

Analyst comment: Timed or not, the deployment of three carriers also happens to come just ahead of President Donald Trump’s scheduled visit to China next month, in which North Korea will no doubt be a topic of discussion.

Why it’s on our radar: Information in this article helps satisfy Priority Intelligence Requirements 2 and 3: What are the latest indicators of a U.S.-China conflict and a U.S.-North Korea war?  Each week in our Strategic Intelligence Summary, we gauge the likelihood and scope of conflict with Russia, China, North Korea, and in the Middle East, and track the latest developments in each region.  Subscribe here to receive our premium intelligence products prepared by Intelligence and special operations veterans.