USA/SKorea — Exercises in Korea Long-planned, Sharp Says

WASHINGTON, Nov. 27, 2010 — Move­ments of troops in South Korea and ships in the Yel­low Sea are part of long-planned exer­cis­es and shouldn’t be seen as a response to North Korea’s Nov. 23 attack on Yeon­pyeong Island, the com­man­der of Unit­ed Nations Com­mand said today.
“Media rhetoric from North Korea, along with images of [South Kore­an] forces mov­ing on the penin­su­la may give you a mis­per­cep­tion of efforts on the penin­su­la,” Army Gen. Wal­ter “Skip” Sharp said in a com­mu­ni­ty mes­sage aimed at Amer­i­cans liv­ing and serv­ing in Korea.

South Kore­an forces are par­tic­i­pat­ing in the pre­vi­ous­ly planned annu­al Hoguk exer­cise. The exer­cis­es, announced Nov. 16, fea­ture move­ments of some 70,000 South Kore­an sol­diers, sailors, air­men and marines.

“The USS George Wash­ing­ton will also par­tic­i­pate in a pre­vi­ous­ly planned, com­bined, train­ing exer­cise,” Sharp said in his mes­sage. Nei­ther Hoguk nor the George Wash­ing­ton car­ri­er bat­tle group exer­cise is in response to Tuesday’s attack that killed four peo­ple on the island.

South Kore­an and U.S. forces hold exer­cis­es year-round to improve readi­ness and to ensure a peace­ful and safe envi­ron­ment on the penin­su­la, he said.

Sharp vis­it­ed Yeong­pyeong Island yes­ter­day to assess the dam­age the unpro­voked artillery bar­rage caused. Ana­lysts are call­ing the attack one of the most seri­ous since the Kore­an War Armistice Agree­ment was signed in 1953. The attack killed two South Kore­an marines and two civil­ians.

Com­bined Forces Com­mand Deputy Com­man­der Gen. Jung Seung-Jo, mem­bers of the Swiss and Swedish Neu­tral Nations Super­vi­so­ry Com­mis­sion, and mem­bers of the UNC Mil­i­tary Armistice Com­mis­sion accom­pa­nied Sharp to the island.

Dur­ing the vis­it, the gen­er­al called on North Korea to refrain from addi­tion­al attacks and provoca­tive actions, and meet with Unit­ed Nations Com­mand offi­cials imme­di­ate­ly in the truce vil­lage of Pan­munjom for gen­er­al offi­cer talks to dis­cuss the inci­dent.

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

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