Anti-Sub Exercises Send Deterrence Message to North Korea

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2010 — The U.S. and Repub­lic of Korea navies kicked off anti-sub­ma­rine war­fare exer­cis­es yes­ter­day in the waters off the Kore­an penin­su­la, send­ing what offi­cials call an impor­tant mes­sage of deter­rence to North Korea as the Repub­lic of Korea com­mem­o­rates the 60th anniver­sary of Seoul’s lib­er­a­tion.

The five-day exer­cis­es are the sec­ond in a series and are focused on anti-sub­ma­rine tac­tics, tech­niques and pro­ce­dures, U.S. Forces Korea offi­cials report­ed.

USS John S. McCain and USS Fitzger­ald, both guid­ed-mis­sile destroy­ers for­ward-deployed to Yoko­su­ka Naval Base, Japan; Mil­i­tary Sealift Command’s ocean sur­veil­lance ship USNS Vic­to­ri­ous, a fast-attack sub­ma­rine, and P-3C Ori­on air­craft from Patrol Squadron 9, home-port­ed at Kaneo­he Marine Corps Base, Hawaii, are par­tic­i­pat­ing in the exer­cise, offi­cials said.

South Korea has deployed two destroy­ers, a fast frigate, a patrol craft, P-3C air­craft from Car­ri­er Air Wing 6 and a sub­ma­rine.

The first exer­cise in this series, Com­bined Naval and Air Readi­ness Exer­cise Invin­ci­ble Spir­it, was con­duct­ed in the seas east of the Kore­an penin­su­la in July.

Offi­cials empha­sized that the exer­cis­es are defen­sive in nature and designed to improve inter­op­er­abil­i­ty with­in the U.S.-ROK alliance.

Mean­while, thou­sands of ROK, U.S. and U.N. allied rep­re­sen­ta­tives gath­ered in Seoul to com­mem­o­rate the 60th anniver­sary of the recap­ture of the South Kore­an cap­i­tal from North Korea dur­ing the Kore­an War.

The North Kore­an army seized Seoul three days after stam­ped­ing across the bor­der on June 25, 1950 and launch­ing the Kore­an War. U.N. forces lib­er­at­ed Seoul on Sept. 28, 1950, less than two weeks after a mas­sive amphibi­ous land­ing in Inchon enabled them to break the North Kore­an army’s sup­ply lines.

Vet­er­ans Affairs Sec­re­tary Eric Shin­se­ki is lead­ing the U.S. del­e­ga­tion dur­ing two days of com­mem­o­ra­tive events that began yes­ter­day in Seoul. U.S. Ambas­sador to South Korea Kath­leen Stephens, Sec­re­tary of the Army John McHugh and Andrew Shapiro, assis­tant sec­re­tary of State for polit­i­cal-mil­i­tary affairs, are accom­pa­ny­ing Shin­se­ki.

Dur­ing today’s cer­e­monies, South Kore­an Pres­i­dent Lee Myung-bak thanked the U.N. and U.S. forces who came to his country’s aid dur­ing the war. “We will remem­ber your sac­ri­fice and ded­i­ca­tion for­ev­er,” he said.

Speak­ing as North Korea’s rul­ing par­ty con­vened its biggest meet­ing in 30 years, and as North Kore­an leader Kim Jong-il pro­mot­ed his son and expect­ed suc­ces­sor, Kim Jong-un, Lee also offered a stern reminder that the North Kore­an threat con­tin­ues.

Lee point­ed to the sink­ing of the ROK navy frigate Cheo­nan in March, killing 46 of its 104 sailors.

Despite North Korea’s denials, an inves­ti­ga­tion led by South Korea with input from the Unit­ed States, Aus­tralia, Great Britain and Swe­den con­firmed that North Kore­an was respon­si­ble for the attack. “The evi­dence points over­whelm­ing­ly to the con­clu­sion that the tor­pe­do was fired by a North Kore­an sub­ma­rine,” the team con­clud­ed. “There is no oth­er plau­si­ble expla­na­tion.”

Lee also called dur­ing yesterday’s cer­e­monies for a “dras­tic trans­for­ma­tion” with­in ROK mil­i­tary forces to improve their defen­sive capa­bil­i­ties.

ROK already is on a path to assum­ing wartime oper­a­tional com­mand of its forces in 2015, a tar­get that Lee had asked to delay from 2012 to 2015 in light of North Korea’s lat­est provo­ca­tions.

Details of the trans­fer plan are spelled out in the new Strate­gic Alliance 2015 agree­ment, which Army Gen. Wal­ter L. “Skip” Sharp, com­man­der of U.S. Forces Korea, Com­bined Forces Com­mand and Unit­ed Nations Com­mand, announced ear­li­er this month.

The plan cov­ers not only trans­fer­ring wartime oper­a­tional com­mand to South Korea, but also devel­op­ing new war plans, intro­duc­ing broad­er and more real­is­tic exer­cis­es, review­ing both coun­tries’ mil­i­tary orga­ni­za­tion­al struc­tures and tim­ing the move­ment of U.S. forces south of Seoul and ensur­ing South Kore­an forces are ready, Sharp explained.

Sharp said the plan also will help to iden­ti­fy mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ties South Kore­an forces will need in 2015, and ensure that South Kore­an mil­i­tary acqui­si­tions, train­ing and orga­ni­za­tion­al efforts are geared toward achiev­ing them.

“Strate­gic Alliance 2015 will enable the Repub­lic of Korea and U.S. forces to suc­cess­ful­ly con­front future secu­ri­ty chal­lenges and set the con­di­tions for last­ing peace in the Kore­an penin­su­la and the region,” Sharp told the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee ear­li­er this month. “The Repub­lic of Korea and the Unit­ed States are more strong­ly unit­ed than ever before to deter North Kore­an provo­ca­tions and aggres­sion, and to defeat them if nec­es­sary,” the gen­er­al said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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