South Korea, US Begin Largest Air Drills In Years

The US and South Korea on Monday began a massive five-day combined air exercise in which hundreds of warplanes will take part in attack preparation scenarios for 24 hours a day.

South Korea, US Begin Largest Air Drills In Years
Image credit: Terence Burke / Unsplash

Facts

  • The US and South Korea on Monday began a massive five-day combined air exercise in which hundreds of warplanes will take part in attack preparation scenarios for 24 hours a day.
  • The operation — called "Vigilant Storm" — comes as allies state that such training is needed to counter threats from North Korea. It also follows the conclusion of the South's 12-day-long Hoguk annual field exercises on Friday.
  • The allies plan to perform more than 1.6K sorties during the drills, with the Korean Air and Space Operations Center conducting the forces to enhance operational capabilities. Seoul and Washington have deployed about 140 and 100 warplanes, respectively, while the Australian Air Force has dispatched a tanker transport.
  • The news marks the return of the US-South Korea joint air training program, which was held annually between 2015 and 2017. The occasion was suspended during the Moon Jae-in admin., along with other drills, to avoid angering Pyongyang.
  • North Korea reportedly condemned the actions of Seoul and Washington on Saturday, claiming that their military exercise would escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
  • Meanwhile, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Chairman Gen. Kim Seung-kyum instructed officials on Monday to, "maintain a thorough readiness posture against provocations" and to, "maintain an operational posture," in case of an enemy provocation.

Sources: Axios, Reuters, Yna, Koreajoongangdaily, Japan News, and Korea Times.

Narratives

  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by AntiWar. When Washington was truly committed to de-escalating tensions with North Korea, Pyongyang responded positively, halting missile tests and demolishing several testing sites. This changed when the US began to increase its military presence in the Asia-Pacific, thereby posing an existential threat to the DPRK. Carrying out provocative drills will only escalate tensions.
  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by DW. Seoul and Washington have demonstrated goodwill toward Pyongyang in the hopes of creating an environment conducive towards disarmament talks for four years. However, as North Korea has failed to make good on its promises – resuming its missile tests and further developing its nuclear program – this course correction is necessary for the restoration of the readiness of the South and its allies for an attack from the North.

Predictions