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

Photogallery Ukraine: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins 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.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid