The United States and South Korea began their largest-ever combined live-fire exercise on Thursday in Pocheon, South Korea, just 15 miles south of the DMZ. Photo by Thomas Maresca/UPI
POCHEON, South Korea, May 25. (UPI) — The United States and South Korea held their largest-ever combined live-fire drills Thursday at a training site just miles from the demilitarized zone as tensions over nuclear weapons remain high. North Korea.
Thursday’s exercise, the first in six years, was held at the Seungjin Fire Training Field in Pocheon, 15 miles south of the Korean border.
The exercise demonstrated the implementation of ‘peace through strength’ with massive state-of-the-art military capabilities,” the South’s Ministry of National Defense said in a statement.
It also commemorated the 70th anniversary of the US-South Korea alliance and the 75th anniversary of the founding of the South Korean military, the ministry said.
About 2,500 troops and more than 600 assets, including F-35A stealth fighter jets, AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and K2 tanks, joined the crowd of soldiers and invited civilians to watch from an observation deck.
The show of force comes amid heightened tensions with Pyongyang, which has maintained a record pace of weapons tests since last year, including the first launch of a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile in April.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected a military intelligence satellite last week and gave the go ahead.
Meanwhile, Washington and Seoul have stepped up military cooperation over the past year and returned to large-scale joint exercises. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and US President Joe Biden recently adopted the Washington Declaration on Enhanced Nuclear Cooperation, which will include increased information sharing and visits by US nuclear submarines to South Korea.
North Korea has consistently denounced joint exercises by the allies as preparations for an invasion. Last week, the state-run Korean Central News Agency called the upcoming live-fire drills “routine [N]orth-directed war rehearsal’.
“We cannot point out more seriously that in such a dangerous war exercise that will last for more than 20 days, they will fire furiously in an area just a few kilometers from our front,” the unsigned said. said a KCNA commentary.
The Allies “will certainly face appropriate responses for their insane nuclear war racket,” the article added.
The 130-minute program on Thursday “intensifies[ed] Deterring North Korea through realistic maneuvers and live-fire exercises based on North Korean provocation scenarios,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
After introductory videos and a loud playlist of fight songs and heavy metal music, rocket launchers began to hit targets across the training ground, sending thunderous shock waves and billowing clouds of smoke.
South Korean forces continued the offensive with ground and air assets, including K2 main battle tanks, K21 armored personnel carriers, F-35A fighter jets, AH-64E Apache and AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters.
US forces have also deployed M270A1 multiple launch missile systems, M1135 nuclear, biological, chemical, reconnaissance vehicles and Apache helicopters to Korea.
“[The exercise] sends a message to the whole world about how strong the alliance is,” US Army Capt. Anthony Lopez told reporters after the exercise. “It creates a shared understanding and helps us learn how we can better build a stronger alliance through this interaction.” exercises”.
The allies plan to hold the combined exercise four more times before June 15.
Leave a Reply