on Thursday 25 May, 2023

US, South Korea hold largest-ever live drills simulating North’s ‘full-scale’ attack

South Korean and US soldiers take part in their joint river-crossing drill which is a part of the Freedom Shield joint military exercise, near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Yeoncheon, South Korea, March 13, 2023. (Reuters)

South Korean and US forces began their largest-ever live-fire exercises on Thursday, simulating a “full-scale attack” from North Korea, South Korea’s defense ministry said.

Some 2,500 troops from the South and the United States participated as the five-day drills kicked off in Pocheon near the border with the North, the ministry said. Multiple tanks, howitzers and fighter jets were also involved, it added.

“The exercise demonstrated our military’s capability and readiness to strongly respond to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats and to a full-scale attack,” the ministry said in a news release.

Last week, North Korea’s state media reported that leader Kim Jong Un had approved final preparations for the launch of the North’s first military spy satellite. Analysts say the satellite will advancing the country’s surveillance capability enabling it to strike targets more accurately in the event of a conflict.

US and South Korean forces have been carrying out various types of military training, including air and sea drills involving American B-1B bombers in recent months after diplomatic efforts and COVID-19 restrictions led to many drills being scaled back.

North Korea has reacted furiously to those drills, and Kim has said the planned launch of its first spy satellite was necessary to counter perceived threats from the US and South Korea.