JAPAN, the US and South Korea brushed aside North Korean warnings of “merciless retaliation” yesterday to press ahead with their provocative war games on the Korean peninsula.
There have been calls in both the US and South Korea to postpone or modify the drills which began on Monday, but a visiting group of senior US military commanders claimed yesterday that the exercises are critical to maintain combat readiness.
“A strong diplomatic effort backed by a strong military effort is key because credible combat power should be in support of diplomacy and not the other way around,” said Admiral Harry Harris at South Korea’s Osan Air Base.
Vincent Brooks, commander of US Forces Korea, said that the allies should continue the war games until they have reason not to, adding: “That reason has not yet emerged.”
North Korea’s military warned that it would launch an unspecified “merciless retaliation and unsparing punishment” on the US over the drills that will last 11 days in total.
Pyongyang accused Washington of deploying “lethal” weapons for the exercises that it says involve a “beheading operation” training aimed at removing supreme leader Kim Jong Un.
“No-one can promise that these huge forces concentrated in South Korea will not go over to an actual war action now that the military tensions have reached an extreme pitch in the Korean peninsula,” it said.
“Moreover, high-ranking bosses of the US imperialist aggressor forces flew into South Korea to hold a war confab. Such huddle is increasing the gravity of the situation.”
This year’s exercises involve 17,500 US troops and 50,000 South Korean soldiers.