Washington DC, 26 September 2022 (TDI): The United States (US) and South Korea (Republic of Korea; ROK) have begun large-scale joint military exercises on the Korean peninsula. The drills are in response to the latest ballistic missile test by North Korea.
Around twenty US and South Korean naval vessels, as well as several fighter jets and helicopters, are participating in the maneuvers, which aim to demonstrate the determination to respond to North Korean provocations.
The four-day exercise on South Korea’s east coast will include drills related to anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare operations, tactical maneuvers, and other maritime activities.
It is pertinent to note that the President of South Korea, Yoon Suk-yeol has vowed to increase joint military drills with the US, after years of unsuccessful negotiation with North Korea under his predecessor.
In a statement, the South Korean Navy conveyed that “This exercise was prepared to demonstrate the strong will of the South Korea-US alliance to respond to North Korean provocations.”
“Through this exercise, we will further improve the ability to conduct joint operations between the naval forces of the two countries.”
South Korea has also claimed to detect signs that according to the President’s office, the North was ready to launch a Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM), a missile Pyongyang last tested in May.
In addition, the North also updated its nuclear strategy earlier this month, enshrining a “first strike” strategy and promising never to give up its nuclear weapons.
Washington and Seoul are key security allies. The US has about 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea as a deterrent factor against nuclear-armed North Korea.
The allies have traditionally conducted joint drills, which they stress are strictly defensive in nature. North Korea, on the other hand, sees them as a rehearsal for an invasion.
Last month, the US and South Korea held their largest joint military exercises since 2018, resuming large-scale training activities that had been reduced back due to Covid-19 and the period of dialogue with Pyongyang.
United States Indo-Pacific Command
The United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) also gave a statement regarding the test conducted by North Korea. The USINDOPACOM is the United States Armed Forces’ unified combatant command in charge of the Indo-Pacific region.
The USINDOPACOM Area of Responsibility (AOR), extends from the waters off the US’s west coast to India’s western border and from Antarctica to the North Pole.
It covers nearly half of the planet’s surface. The Asia-Pacific area is unlike any other in terms of its cultural, social, economic, and geopolitical diversity.
More than 50% of the world’s population, 3,000 different languages, several of the largest military in the world, five countries linked with the US through mutual defense treaties, and 36 countries make up the Asia-Pacific region.
It’s noteworthy that the Asia-Pacific region is home to 10 of the 14th smallest economies and two of the three largest.
USINDOPACOM is one of the six geographical Unified Combatant Commands of the US Armed Forces. Highest US military commander in the Indo-Pacific Command Area of Responsibility is known as Commander US Indo-Pacific Command (CDRUSINDOPACOM).
The US Pacific Fleet, US Pacific Air Forces, US Army Pacific, and US Marine Forces, Pacific are the four component commands that support CDRUSINDOPACOM.
CDRUSINDOPACOM reports to the US President through the US Secretary of Defense. These commands have their main offices in Hawaii and have deployed and stationed troops all around the area.
USINDOPACOM Statement on DPRK Missile Launch
We are aware of the ballistic missile launch and are consulting closely with our allies and partners. While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to US personnel or territory, or to our allies, the missile launch highlights the destabilizing impact of the DPRK’s unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs. The U.S. commitments to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remain ironclad.