Yonhap News & The Korean Times – 2016-09-03 20:16:02
South Korea, US Boost Readiness through Joint Drill
SEOUL (September 1, 2016) — South Korea and the United States have beefed up their fighting readiness against North Korea’s growing threats, with their latest joint drill set to end Friday, military officials said.
The Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) exercise, which began on August 22, focused on dealing with a potential inter-Korean conflict, with 25,000 American forces and 50,000 Korean soldiers participating in the annual drill, the defense ministry said.
“The two-week exercise helped strengthen the allies’ crisis management abilities and joint readiness posture. They are more prepared to fight tonight in case North Korea makes any provocative moves,” a ministry official said.
In a media roundtable held on Aug. 24, Gen. Robert B. Brown, commander of the US Army Pacific Command, said, “The more exercises we can do together, the better prepared we will be should North Korea do something stupid and try to attack South Korea.”
The UFG drill is usually a computerized command post exercise (CPX) with less emphasis on field maneuvers. “But this time, the drill reportedly included a training drill that outlines possible pre-emptive attacks on the North’s nuclear and missile facilities,” the official said.
In an apparent protest against the drill, North Korea test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile early on Aug. 24. The missile flew some 500 kilometers over the East Sea, the greatest distance the communist nation has achieved since it began SLBM tests last year.
In its latest condemnation against the exercise, North Korea described it as a massive war game aimed at invading the communist regime. North Korea’s representative office in the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom warned in a white paper released on Friday, “We will launch an unsparing pre-emptive nuclear strike should there be any signs of an invasion.”
The alliance’s other major military drills include Key Resolve, another CPX, and the field training exercise (FTX) Foal Eagle. From March to April, they held the two exercises following the North’s fourth nuclear test in January and long-range rocket launch the following month.
North Korea Issues White Paper Condemning Seoul-Washington Military Exercises
PYONGYANG (September 3, 2016) — North Korea’s military on Friday released a white paper condemning South Korea and the United States for conducting joint military exercises, calling it a product of Washington’s “hideous” hostile policy toward Pyongyang.
A mission of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) at the truce village of Panmunjom said that the allies’ annual military drills are nothing more than exercises to prepare for a preemptive nuclear strike against North Korea, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
The Seoul-Washington annual military drills are set to wrap up the two-week run on Friday, and have long been denounced by North Korea as a rehearsal for northern invasion.
“The white paper branded the joint military exercises as a direct product of the hideous hostile policy toward the DPRK pursued by the US and its military strategy,” the KCNA said. (The DPRK stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the official name of North Korea.)
It is rare for the North’s military to issue a white paper denouncing the military drills as they usually make public their stance through other means such as statements or open letters. North Korea has said that its nuclear weapons program serves as a deterrence against what it called Washington’s hostile policy.
“If they persistently resort to military exercises and other nuclear war exercises against the DPRK, they will face the most merciless and miserable end,” the white paper said.
Seoul’s unification ministry said North Korea seems to be aiming to use the white paper as evidence to vindicate its claim that the Seoul-Washington exercises are useless. “It is quite unusual that the North’s military issued such a white paper,” Jeong Joon-hee, a ministry spokesman, said at a regular press briefing.
Tensions are running high on the divided peninsula as North Korea threatens to conduct another nuclear test and launch additional ballistic missiles. Last week, North Korea test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile toward Japan, and marked the longest flight by such a missile during a test.
South Korea and US Set for ‘Largest Ever’ War Games
(March 6, 2016) — The US and South Korea are set to begin their largest ever joint military exercises amid high tensions on the Korean peninsula.
More than 300,000 South Korean and 15,000 US troops will take part in the drills, Yonhap news agency reported, citing a military official.
South Korean defence minister Han Min-koo has said the exercises will be twice the size of last year.
The drills start days after the UN passed new sanctions on North Korea.
Security tensions have increased since the North tested a nuclear device in January, followed by a rocket launch.
The North responded to the sanctions by saying it was readying nuclear weapons for ‘pre-emptive’ use, and firing short-range missiles into the sea.
Military analysts doubt the country has the ability to put nuclear warheads on its missiles.
The exercises, which begin on Monday and run until 30 April, are intended to warn North Korea against provocations, Mr Han was reported as saying.
North Korea sees the annual war games as a rehearsal for invasion.
The US and South Korea on Friday also began formal talks on the deployment of the US missile defence system to the peninsula, a move strongly opposed by North Korea, Russia and China.
Beijing says the Thaad anti-missile system compromises its security and would undermine its nuclear deterrent.
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