Posted BY: Teresa | NwoReport

Air Forces from the United States and three Pacific allies have fanned out across 1,200 miles of the Pacific Ocean in a test of their ability to operate far from large, well-appointed bases.

Cope North, an annual airpower exercise involving 2,000 service members from the U.S., Japan, Australia, and France, began Feb. 10 and run through Feb. 24.

Forces from all four nations are spread across 10 spots between the Japanese island of Iwo Jima, also called Iwo To, in the north and the Republic of Palau in the south, Air Force Col. Jared Pasley said by phone Wednesday.

The locations are in the so-called second island chain, according to Pasley, the director of U.S. forces participating in the exercise. The chain, which includes Guam, stretches along the eastern border of the Philippine Sea and forms a strategic line of defense for the U.S.

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The exercise comes amid heightened tensions with Beijing, which has been investing heavily in its military. Chinese President Xi Jinping has stated his intention of reuniting the autonomous and democratic island of Taiwan, by force if necessary.

Last month, Gen. Michael Minihan, who as head of Air Mobility Command oversees the Air Force’s fleet of transport and refueling aircraft, warned his airmen to speed their preparations for a potential conflict, citing Xi’s aspirations and the possibility that Americans will not be paying attention until it is too late.

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