News / Asia

US, South Korea Begin Military Drill Amid North Korean War Threats

South Korean protesters rally against the annual joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States in front of the South Korean and United States War Command Center in Seongnam, South Korea, Feb. 28, 2011.
South Korean protesters rally against the annual joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States in front of the South Korean and United States War Command Center in Seongnam, South Korea, Feb. 28, 2011.

South Korea and the United States on Monday began their annual extensive joint military exercises, prompting a renewed war threat by North Korea.

More than 12,000 members of the U.S. military are joining 200,000 South Korean service members for the maneuvers.

South Korean media report that exercise scenarios this year include tracing weapons of mass destruction and coping with a sudden regime change in Pyongyang.

Retired U.S. Army General John Wickham, who commanded American forces here, says it is not surprising that such a contingency has become part of the long-standing joint exercise.

"That's an important thing to be concerned about, given the uncertainty of food problems and the transition of leadership. It would be foolhardy if the South Korean authorities and the Combined Forces authorities weren't planning for the potential of something like that.  I'm sure the Chinese are concerned about that, too," said Wickham.

The United States says the drills are defensive in nature and that it informed North Korea in advance about the exercises.

There are two parts to the drill. A command post computer simulation war game called Key Resolve is scheduled to continue until March 10.  Air, ground and naval forces are taking part in maneuvers code-named "Foal Eagle".  They are expected to run through the end of
April.

South Korean media report that the U.S. aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan will participate.  U.S. military sources say an announcement is expected to be made by the end of this week on which navy ships will take part in "Foal Eagle".

North Korea’s army on Sunday said the U.S.-South Korea drills are aimed at removing the country’s nuclear weapons arsenal and destroying the country. It warned that provoking Pyongyang through the exercises would lead to "all-out war" with the South Korean capital being turned into "a sea of fire."

General Wickham says he has heard similar rhetoric before and that he is not overly concerned. "I think this is more saber rattling to see how far they can push the envelope of tension and fear," he said.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry denies a Yonhap news agency report quoting the Joints Chiefs of Staff here as saying the country’s military alert status for maritime and land borders has been raised to cope with any provocations from the North.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula soared to their highest level in decades last year. North Korea was blamed for sinking a South Korean naval warship in the Yellow Sea. Forty-six South Korean sailors died in the incident. In the same waters, North Korea shelled Frontier island where the South was conducting a military drill.  Four people died on Yeongpyeong Island during that incident.

North Korea on Sunday also threatened to fire again into the South if a propaganda balloon campaign is not halted.

Two-and-a-half million leaflets were floated into the North earlier this month. The balloons carried messages ridiculing North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and calling for people to rise against the communist government. The balloons also carried news of the Middle East uprisings.

Governing Grand National Party lawmaker Shin Ji-ho, who took part in a recent balloon launch near the Demilitarized Zone says that regardless of what North Korea says, South Korea will continue to send balloons over the border.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid