The drill, based mostly on a counterattack towards invading forces, comes after the US and South Korean Presidents pledged to step up army cooperation following a Might summit assembly in Seoul, and after North Korea carried out 18 missiles checks this yr, in comparison with solely 4 checks in 2020, and eight in 2021.
CNN was one in every of two Western media organizations invited to look at the coaching.
“There is no stronger alliance in the world than the US-ROK (Republic of Korea) alliance,” Col. Brandon Anderson of the US Military’s 2nd Infantry Division and a deputy commander of the RUCD, the Republic of Korea United States Mixed Division, informed CNN.
“The bigger the threat, the greater the alliance, or the greater the threat, the greater the alliance,” Anderson mentioned, earlier than US and South Korean tanks and artillery blasted targets simulating enemy troops, armor and positions on the Rodriguez Reside Fireplace Complicated, tucked into the mountains north of Seoul.
The commanders did not particularly identify that enemy and mentioned their train was defensive in nature, however its location — the taking pictures vary is simply 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea — left little question over whom its message was geared toward.
The South Korean commander of the mixed division, Brig. Gen. Kim Nam-hoon, mentioned the US-ROK alliance performs to the strengths of each events.
“The reason the CFC [Combined Forces Command] can perform the best on the Korean Peninsula is because of the harmony between the US capability and the Koreans’ knowledge on operation and geography,” Kim mentioned.
The 2 allies introduced this one-of-a-kind division collectively seven years in the past to capitalize on that.
Forces ‘must be prepared’
In a command heart perched on a hill above the firing vary, US and South Korean troops shared focusing on info for the Okay-1 South Korean and M1 Abrams US tanks, in addition to calling in artillery strikes from South Korean Okay-9 and US Palladin batteries out of sight behind a hillside.
The command heart shook with concussions 5 seconds after smoke appeared on the mountainside it confronted, a couple of mile away.
The tanks fired concrete-filled dummy rounds popping up 600 meters [1,969 feet] to 700 meters [2,297 feet] in entrance of them. The rounds skipped a whole bunch extra meters up the hillside after hitting their marks. That is as a result of, in the event that they exploded like they’d in an precise battle, the targets can be obliterated with the primary shot, a US officer mentioned.
The US and South Korean troops within the command heart adjusted their hearth as targets have been taken out and new ones appeared on the vary within the distance.
Laptop screens flashed as targets have been hit. Different views confirmed tank crews loading shells into the tank’s gun, and its gun recoiling because it fired.
“Nothing says assurance like military training,” mentioned Anderson. “Both US and ROK forces have to be ready.”
And to make certain, US and South Korean forces are upping their readiness.
A ‘particular’ alliance
A live-fire train like Wednesday’s hasn’t been showcased since 2018, when then-US President Donald Trump put these form of drills on maintain, saying such battle video games did not have a spot whereas he was engaged in diplomatic talks with North Korean chief Kim Jong Un.
However Trump, and his South Korean counterpart on the time Moon Jae-in, did not reach ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile packages. Their successors, Joe Biden and Yoon Suk Yeol, have taken a a lot tougher line on the North.
With its missiles checks and harsh rhetoric, North Korea is exhibiting it is not fascinated about talks, so mixed workout routines like Wednesday’s are crucial.
And they’re a change from what the US army, at the very least, has confronted in precise fight for a very long time, on condition that in Iraq and Afghanistan, the enemy’s weapons and techniques have been fairly completely different from what a battle with North Korea may entail.
“We didn’t stop looking at the Middle East, but we came out of how we fight [and] maybe [we] refocused on near-peer adversary,” Anderson mentioned. A near-peer adversary is one with related weapons, power numbers and techniques.
“If we’re going to look at a near-peer adversary, we have to do more challenging adverse conditions. We have to do it with somebody that’s capable of inflicting damage on us,” he mentioned.
The US and South Korean officers mentioned they imagine working collectively can restrict that harm.
“Interoperability is essential for actual combined operations,” mentioned Kim, the South Korean basic.
And the mixed unit is bolstered by 72 years of historical past working collectively, Anderson mentioned, harkening again to the 1950-1953 Korean Conflict.
“We’ve been here since 1950s … It’s not uncommon to see second- or third-generation US service members on the Korean Peninsula. And I tell you that because I don’t know any other alliance that special,” he mentioned.