S.Korea, U.S. Start Biggest-Ever Joint Exercises

      March 07, 2016 09:38

      South Korea and the U.S. on Monday start joint exercises on a scale not seen since North Korea sank the Navy corvette Cheonan in 2010. More than 17,000 American troops from the U.S. Forces Korea and other overseas bases and some 300,000 South Korean soldiers are taking part.

      The two allies will practice so-called "decapitation operations" against the North Korean regime and preemptive strikes on North Korean nuclear and missile facilities.

      A U.S. combat airborne brigade and a Marine mobile brigade will take part using state-of-the-art equipment like the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, aerial refueling aircraft, and marine patrol aircraft.

      The Stennis is a super-size aircraft carrier with a displacement of more than 90,000 tons. It carries some 80 aircraft, including FA-18 E/F Super Hornet fighter jets. Its fleet consists of three to four Aegis destroyers and cruisers and one to two attack nuclear-powered submarines.

      The drills have been ramped up following the North's recent nuclear test and rocket launch. The part dubbed "Key Resolve" is a computer-simulation command post exercise, while the "Foal Eagle" part is a field maneuver mobilizing massive troops and equipment.

      The decapitation exercise will be carried out on the assumption that troops from the U.S. Navy SEAL and Delta Force and soldiers from the South Korean Army Special Warfare Command and Navy UDT/SEAL clandestinely infiltrate North Korea on nuclear-powered submarines and special aircraft like the MC-130 and MH-47.

      A Marine landing exercise is scheduled between Monday and March 18, bringing together 12,000 Marines from the two countries, five U.S. maritime prepositioning ship squadrons, and the USS Bonhomme Richard landing vessel with a displacement of more than 40,000 tons.

      The Richard can provide supplies for a single brigade to continue combat for a month.

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