First day of SK-US military exercises passes without provocation

Posted on : 2013-03-12 14:26 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
North Korea has made no detectable military moves during tense period on the peninsula
 Mar. 11. As the Key Resolve South Korea-US military exercises are going on
Mar. 11. As the Key Resolve South Korea-US military exercises are going on

By Kim Kyu-won, staff reporter

Despite North Korea‘s threats to nullify the 1953 Korean War armistice agreement, South Korea and the US went ahead as planned with the Key Resolve combined military exercises on Mar. 11. So far, the North has not reportedly made any noticeable military moves.

Around 10,000 ROK troops and 3,000 US soldiers, including 2,500 reinforcements from US Pacific command in Hawaii, are taking part in the military exercise, which will continue through Mar. 21. Another 10,000 US soldiers will be deployed by the end of this month for the Foal Eagle exercises. Also flown in to participate in the exercises were B-52 bombers and F-22 stealth fighters, which boast the world’s highest levels of performance. These two kinds of aircraft can maneuver throughout Korean airspace without landing. In addition, the 9750t Aegis destroyers USS Lassen and USS Fitzgerald arrived in South Korea.

On Mar. 11, James Sherman, commander of the combined US-ROK forces as well as of US forces in Korea (USFK), said, “The Key Resolve exercises are important for strengthening the battle readiness of the combined US-ROK forces. This year, it is especially significant that the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff took the lead in planning and carrying out the exercises for the first time.”

“The US Pacific command will take part in the Key Resolve war games and in naval exercises around the Korean peninsula,” said the US-ROK Combined Forces Command.

Kim Min-seok, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense, said, “Through these exercises, the US-ROK forces will increase their ability to engage in combined operations for the defense of the Korean peninsula and improve the ability of ROK forces to oversee operations.”

Along with the combined exercises, the military has increased surveillance and strengthened its response readiness for the possibility of provocative action by North Korean forces. On Mar. 11, Minister of Defense Kim Kwan-jin gave orders to maintain a high level of surveillance and readiness to the military units defending the five islands in the West (Yellow) Sea, which are believed to be a likely site for a North Korean military provocation, as well as the Northern Limit Line, the Military Demarcation Line, the Demilitarized Zone, and the Joint Security Area at Panmunjeom.

“We have fully mobilized all of our intelligence assets, including Baekdu [signal] and Geumgang [video] reconnaissance aircraft, Peace Eye [airborne early warning and control craft], ballistic missile early warning radar, artillery radar, and Aegis vessels to monitor the movement of North Korean forces,” said a source with the ROK military.

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On Mar. 6, Kim Yong-hyun, operational director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “If North Korea pushes ahead with provocations that would threaten the lives and safety of our citizens, our military will strongly and sternly punish the provocations’ starting point, its supporting forces and corps-level commanding post.” This implies that if North Korean forces make a military provocation, the South Korean army will even attack the military command behind the unit that carried out the attack.

“The Korean Armistice Agreement is to be nullified completely from today,” claimed the Rodong Sinmun, North Korea’s official newspaper. However, no unusual movements by the North Korean military were detected, nor were any signs in evidence of the large-scale military training the North was expected to conduct as a counter to the US-ROK military exercises. If the North Korean military holds national level exercises, the Ministry of Defense expects that the gathering place for the units involved will be Wonsan in the North Korean part of Gangwon Province.

The North Korea has deployed vehicles equipped with 122mm and 240mm rocket launchers with the shore batteries already in place on the coast of Hwanghae Province, just north of the South Korean islands of Baeknyeong and Yeonpyeong, reports say. With the sea becoming less rough, it is assumed that submarines and submersibles have already resumed their activity. It is also believed that the North could launch KN-02 short-range (120km) missiles in the area of its waters in the East and West Seas that it has forbidden vessels and aircraft from entering. While it is not impossible for the North to launch its KN-06 mid-range missile (3,000-4,000km range) or its KN-08 long-range missile (10,000km range), these are believed to be relatively less likely to happen.

 

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