November 8, 2022
SEOUL – The South Korean military on Monday began conducting the Taegeuk military exercise to enhance military readiness posture against North Korean missile and nuclear threats.
The four-day military exercise aims to strengthen the South Korean military’s capabilities to manage the crisis and its ability to transition into wartime, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
The Taegeuk exercise will enable the South Korean military to master its mission capability in real-world scenarios in preparation for various threats, including threats posed by North Korean missile and nuclear programs and “recent provocations,” according to the JCS.
The ongoing computer-simulated command post exercise, or CPX, does not incorporate any field training exercises.
The Taegeuk military exercise led by South Korea’s JCS is defensive in nature and has been conducted on a yearly basis, according to the JCS.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s Air Force on Monday said it has decided to cancel the second round of the annual ground-to-air live-fire competition which is scheduled for Wednesday to “maintain a full readiness posture against continuing provocation by North Korea.”
The Air Force had planned to live-fire homegrown Cheongung II (M-SAM) mid-range surface-to-air missiles for the first time during the contest held at the Daecheon shooting range in the city of Boryeong, South Chungcheong Province. The live-fire contest has been held annually to enhance the combat power of the Air Force’s missile defense unit.
South Korea’s Air Force said the cancellation is imperative to “minimize vacuum in air power” that could be caused by the movement of anti-aircraft defense forces.
North Korea has taken a series of military actions, including launching ballistic missiles and firing artillery shells near the inter-Korean border, while justifying them as countermeasures against defense-oriented military exercises staged by South Korea and the US.
The General Staff of the Korean People’s Army on Monday explained that North Korea’s spate of military actions last week were its tit-for-tat response to the South Korea-US Vigilant Storm air combat exercise by issuing a statement. The KPA’s General Staff said it “conducted corresponding military operations from Nov. 2 to 5.”
North Korea launched 35 missiles, including one suspected intercontinental ballistic missile, from Nov. 2 to Nov. 5, according to South Korea’s JCS.
In addition, North Korea fired around 180 artillery shells toward the inter-Korean maritime buffer zones during the period, violating the Sep. 19 inter-Korean military agreement.
The South Korean military also scrambled around 80 military aircraft, including F-35A stealth fighter jets, on Nov. 4 after detecting 180 flight trails by North Korean warplanes flying near a South Korea-designated tactical action line.
The Vigilant Storm exercise had been originally scheduled to be staged between Oct. 31 and Nov. 4. But South Korea and the US decided to extend the Vigilant Storm exercise to Nov. 5 in response to North Korea’s continuing missile launches.
The US dispatched two B-1B Lancer bombers from Andersen Air Force Base on Guam in the Western Pacific to the Korean Peninsula on Nov. 5 to mobilize them for the Vigilant Storm exercise, according to South Korea’s JCS.
The US Air Force’s B-1B strategic bombers were deployed on the Korean Peninsula for the first time since December 2017. But on that day, North Korea fired four short-range ballistic missiles from Tongrim County in North Pyongyan Province towards the West Sea.
The KPA’s General Staff on Monday also threatened to continue to counter military exercises by South Korea and the United States with “overwhelming, practical” military actions in the statement.
The Korean Peninsula has been locked in a vicious cycle of provocations and deterrence due to North Korea’s tit-for-tat strategy. But US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Friday said the US deterrence has been “effective” despite North Korea’s continuing provocations during a joint press conference following the annual defense-ministerial security talks between South Korea and the US.
Austin explained that the US and South Korea aim to deter North Korea from attacking South Korea and from employing a nuclear device either against the peninsula or against the homeland.
“We are focused on making sure that nobody attacks South Korea, and we’re committed to that. Our commitment is ironclad,” Austin said. “And we’re also committed to deterring anyone from using a nuclear device. And yes, I do believe we’ve been effective in that.”