As the United States Drills With South Korea, Kim Jong Un Pushes for War Preparations in the North

  • There are over 28,000 US military personnel in South Korea, protecting the country from its aggressive northern neighbor.
  • In wartime, US and South Korean forces will operate under unified US command. Right now, they’re running a major exercise to rehearse battle drills.
  • The exercise comes as North Korea’s dictator is making increasingly aggressive statements and hinting at war.
  • Kim Jong-un has called on his army to prepare for “merciless” bombardment of the South.

( – US forces in South Korea are running a large-scale training exercise with their allies, and it seems like that training is even more important than usual. North Korea’s unstable dictator is ramping up his threats of war against his southern neighbor. If the US wants to deter his aggression, allied forces in the region need to show they’re ready to fight back. In the worst case, they would need to defend against the rogue communist state’s large military.

Allied Forces Launch Major Exercise

On March 4, Combined Forces Command (CFC), the joint headquarters that commands US and local forces in South Korea, began its annual Freedom Shield exercise. This is scheduled to run until March 14 and will test significantly more military skills than last year’s. As usual, the North Korean regime has condemned the exercise, which it generally claims is a rehearsal for an invasion of the north, but this year their threats are more menacing than usual.

Since the Korean War armistice in 1953, both Koreas have regularly called for reunification, generally with the caveat that the reunited country will use their own system of government. However, in January, dictator Kim Jong-un openly called South Korea “our principal enemy” during a tour of factories, implicitly changing the pro-western democracy from part of a divided country to a hostile foreign state.

He’s now ordered the constitution changed to add the “principal enemy” designation, shut down his regime’s reunification office, and demolished the Arch of Reunification on the highway from Pyongyang to the border. On March 7, he watched an artillery exercise carried out within bombardment range of the South Korean capital of Seoul and ordered his military to be ready for “merciless and rapid strikes” if war breaks out.

CFC Adapts to North Korean Threat

Until 2018, the headquarters of CFC was in Seoul, but the city is just 35 miles from the border with North Korea and well within range of rocket artillery fire from North Korea. Under the Trump administration, the HQ was moved to Pyeongtaek, 22 miles to the south, making it more survivable if Kim attacks. Combined with the larger scale of this year’s Freedom Shield exercise, the CFC move sends a strong message that US Forces Korea and its allies are ready to resist an invasion. The question is whether Kim, who continues to rattle his nuclear saber and now has an arsenal of up to 40 nuclear weapons, will get that message.

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