U.S. and South Korean forces on Friday conducted what they called their largest live-fire military exercise since the end of the Korean War, according to reports from South Korea.
More than 2,000 troops plus fighter jets, helicopters and armor from both nations participated in the hourlong exercise, conducted as about 4,000 spectators looked on, according to a report from Stars and Stripes.
The exercise took place in Pocheon, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of the Demilitarized Zone that marks the border between North and South Korea.
Enemy territory during the exercise was marked by a large North Korean flag unfurled on a hillside, according to the report. After it was obscured by smoke during the U.S. and South Korean attacks, the North Korean flag was replaced by one from the South to signal victory.
"We train together to ensure we are ready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our (South Korean) army partners if called upon,â€ť said Lt. Col. Joe Scrocca, a spokesman for the U.S. Army's 2nd Infantry Division. â€śWe are a more lethal force together than we would ever be separate.â€ť
Meanwhile, the U.S. aircraft carrier George Washington was to lead a large naval drill off South Korea beginning Saturday, according to a report from the Yonhap News Agency. About 8,000 military personnel, along with about 10 ships and submarines, were to participate.
"Throughout the joint military exercises, South Korean and U.S. forces will show off their resolute capabilities," Yonhap quoted South Korean Navy Brig. Gen. Park Seong-bae as saying.
He warned North Korea not to react in a hostile manner.
"We will immediately retaliate against any provocations from North Korea," Yonhap quoted the general as saying.
The North reacted angrily after naval drills this week between U.S., South Korean and Japanese forces.
"The dangerous moves to knock into shape the triangular military nexus is an act going against the trend of the times for regional peace and stability, including on the Korean Peninsula," read a piece in the ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun, according to Yonhap.
"Dark clouds of a new war are thus hanging heavily in Northeast Asia, including the peninsula," the newspaper said, according to Yonhap.
And before that North Korea's official state media Korean Central News Agency called the exercises provocations.
"Even the slightest provocation on the peninsula may promptly lead to an all-out nuclear war between both sides and a regional war because it is the region where the world's biggest military forces including nukes are concentrated and there is neither lasting mechanism nor guarantee for averting a war," the North Korean agency said.
Tension in the Korean peninsula has escalated since North Korea's shelling of a South Korean island in 2010, which killed four, and sinking of a South Korea warship that killed 46 sailors in a torpedo attack blamed on the North. The North has denied it was behind the attack.
Good comments by some of you here, but I would like to point out that NK does have the second largest military in the world. Why do you think GWB never bothered to deal with them or provoke them when he had the chance and when they were acquiring nuclear weapons?
Ah yes, the BIG army talk. I remember the BIG army talk before the first Gulf War. The Iraqis had a million man army. We can never win. How did that million man army fight? Exactly.
They can not supply, clothe and feed that large army once they put it into the field
North Korea is a paper tiger with a loud mouth and an empty stomach.
It will be okay. North Korea doesn't even have electricity. And all of their missiles and bombs are empty aluminum cases flung by what could be called a giant sling shot.
Actually the opposite this is a scary scary situation one of which would be devastating for both US/S Korean Military/civilians. These drills are a must per the article
What is North Korea going to do? Dump all of their, what are akin to empty aluminum beer cans, all over the south?
Another blatent waiste of taxpayers money, what do you think this cost?
Millions of dollars well spent on joint force training you hippy, i bet you were part of those occupy movements that caused a ton of chaos and were an "ACTUAL" waste of taxpayer dollars.
A waste? The North and South Koreans have been playing a deadly game of who has the bigger guns for years. To stop these military drills could cast a war between these two very heated nations that would ultimately involve the US. So what do you think? A few million dollar drills every now and then as deterrence to war or a multi-billion and perhaps trillion dollar war with North Korea and perhaps China.
Have u ever been in the service or do you always run your mouth which you can thanks to vets
It's payed for by the south korean taxpayers
You obviously have no idea what you are talking about. Go back to nickjr.com
So easy to casually rant away on your air conditioned computer when you don't live next to North Korea or experience their missile tests.
If you're connected why don't you suck up some information instead of spreading trash logic.
Go back to North Korea Scott. You'd like it better there.
Educate yourself. The host country always pays for most of the cost, weather drills are conducted in Europe or in The ROK
They Should have used a Large Paper Bowl Haircut instead.
Half of the comments/ replies here are a terrific example of what's wrong with America.
We all cry and sob over "a waste of taxpayer money" yet I'd like to venture out and estimate that more than half of these people can't spell "waste" or "paid".
"Rampency" has the most well-thought out and put-together comment in this discussion.
A few scheduled drills here and there are more cost-efficient than a multi-billion dollar war.
And it is most necessary to hold these drills.
Shoot a South Korean border guard, stern finger point. Sink a South Korean vessel, stern finger point. Threaten the region with intercontinental missile tests, stern finger point. Lil Kim Jr had a show for his girl friend that involved a copyright infringement using Disney characters. Suddenly, we are preparing for war.