The United States and its allies in South Korea are participating in a gigantic version of its annual Foal Eagle/Key Resolve military exercises. The DOD described the exercises, saying:
About 3,600 U.S. service members were deployed to join the 28,000 U.S. troops already based in South Korea for the annual exercise, which will run through April 30, Davis said.
He described the exercise as a series of joint and combined ground, air, naval and special operations field exercises, adding that it is designed in the spirit of the U.S.-South Korean mutual defense treaty of 1953.
“These exercises are defensive in nature, and they have been carried out regularly, openly and transparently for nearly 40 years,” Davis said.
Conducted as a clear demonstration of the U.S. commitment to the alliance, he said, Foal Eagle 2017 is designed to increase readiness to defend South Korea, to protect the region, and to maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula.
Preparing for THAAD
Earlier this week, when Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo spoke by phone, Mattis welcomed the land transfer in South Korea that will support stationing the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, also known as THAAD, Davis said.
“It remains our intent to have [THAAD] there and in an operational state as soon as feasible,” he said. “This is a critical measure that we’re taking to defend the Korean people and alliance forces against North Korean missile threats, a very serious threat as highlighted by the Feb. 12 ballistic missile launch by North Korea.
“[North Korea’s] unlawful weapons program represents a clear, grave threat to our national security,” said the captain continued. “They have openly stated that their ballistic missiles are intended to deliver nuclear weapons to strike cities in the United States, Republic of Korea and Japan.”
Pat Buchanan writes that the increased tensions, and especially the situation of a THAAD system so near China could cause a “Korean Missile Crisis.”
U.S. response: Begin immediate deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile shield in Korea.
This set off alarms in China. For while THAAD cannot shoot down Scuds on the DMZ, its radar can detect missile launches inside China, thereby, says Beijing, imperiling her deterrent.
For accepting THAAD, China has imposed sanctions on Seoul, and promised the U.S. a commensurate strategic response.
Minister Wang’s proposal for resolving the crisis: The U.S. and Seoul cancel the exercises and North Korea suspends the nuclear and missile tests.
How did we reach this crisis point?
Read more here.