As usual, the US is claiming that North Korea’s response to the massive ‘vigilant storm’ war games was ‘unprovoked.’
Photo: A U.S. Marine Corps F-35 Lightning II from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 242, out of Iwakuni, Japan, parks at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Oct 31, 2022. (Courtesy: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Sadie Colbert)
03 November 2022 | James Porteous | Clipper Media News
The United States and South Korea this week held one of their largest combined military drills. Hundreds of warplanes from both sides are staging mock attacks 24 hours a day, including an estimated 1600 sorties
More than 240 aircraft and thousands of U.S. and Republic of Korea armed service members conduct combat readiness exercises.
Operation Vigilant Storm, a four-day training exercise involving hundreds of aircraft and designed to enhance combat readiness and interoperability between the U.S. Air Force and some of its allies in the Asia-Pacific region.
The exercise is set to run from October 31 to November 4, and has already sparked opposition from North Korea’s Foreign Ministry.
Pentagon Press Secretary, Air Force Brig. Gen.Pat Ryder, told reporters that armed units representing the U.S. and the Republic of Korea (ROK) began the planned exercise on Monday.
The four-day exercise will incorporate approximately 240 aircraft and thousands of service members from the ROK Air Force, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Army.
They will perform approximately 1,600 sorties, which will be monitored by the Korean Air Operations Center in charge of overseeing the operation.
“This year’s event, which was long scheduled, will strengthen the operational and tactical capabilities, Combined Air Operations, and support our strong combined defense posture,” Ryder said.
The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command also stated that during the training, the units would work together to perform major air missions, such as close air support, defensive counter air, and emergency air operations 24 hours a day. Supporting forces on the ground will also simultaneously practice defense procedures and survivability in case of an attack.
The Korean and U.S. forces will use fourth-generation jets during the training, including the ROKAF’s F-35As and the U.S. Marine Corps’ F-35Bs. The goal is to develop cross-service between airmen and marines and combine combat readiness experiences.
To position aircraft for the session, several will depart from Air Force bases in the Republic of Korea, Osan, and Kunsan, and from U.S. Army Garrison Camp Humphreys, all in South Korea. The Royal Australian Air Force will also deploy a KC-30 air refuelers from its No. 33 Squadron to the region to support the training exercise.
The AP reported that the training had provoked the North Korean government and military. North Korea’s Foreign Ministry condemned Vigilant Storm as a practice for potential invasion and said it would take more powerful follow-up measures if the training event continued. Last week, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea, creating a stir.
Additionally, Ryder said the Department of Defense was paying close attention to North Korea’s interaction with Russia after the embattled country solicited weapons and ammunition to support its war in Ukraine.
“I’ve seen the North Korean denials of that. Let them speak for themselves. But it is our assessment that Russia does continue to seek arms from North Korea and Iran,” Ryder said.
01 November 2022 | Republic of Korea Air Force, United States Air Force, United States Marine Corps, United States Navy, and Royal Australian Air Force kicked off Vigilant Storm 2022 combined aerial exercise.
Five days of joint US-South Korean military exercises begin today.
Styled “Vigilant Storm”, more than 240 aircraft flying approximately 1,600 sorties will participate in the drills, including American F-35B stealth fighter jets.
Vigilant Storm comes a mere days after South Korea concluded its annual Hoguk field training exercises. On Friday, North Korea also fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan.
While Pyongyang claims its missile tests are defensive in nature, the drills are more an attempt to test its weapons systems and intimidate Washington and Seoul to improve its negotiating power.
The uptick in missile tests noted since late September may also indicate that North Korea is preparing to conduct another nuclear test, which it has not done since 2017.
Continued military activity—especially another nuclear test—is likely to raise concerns among the US and its allies but is unlikely to significantly alter Washington’s longstanding approach to North Korea.
Expect Washington and Seoul to continue to support drills and collective security guarantees should North Korea maintain its current posture.
Within these collective security guarantees, expect promises of full retaliation should Pyongyang pre-emptively attack the US or its regional allies.
01 November 2022 | North Korea is threatening “more powerful follow-up measures” should the U.S. continue what the North labels “military provocations,” referring to Washington’s ongoing joint air drills with South Korea.
In a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, the North’s foreign ministry slammed the exercise as a “war drill for aggression” and warned the regime is ready to take all necessary measures to defend itself from outside threats.
The Vigilant Storm drills started on Monday. They are full scale for the first time in nearly five years… with roughly 240 aircraft mobilized in light of concerns the North could soon conduct what would be its seventh nuclear test.
Among the aircraft mobilized are four U.S. Marine Corps F-35B stealth fighters, which arrived at Kunsan Air Base on Monday… the first time the jets have landed at a ground base in South Korea.
2 Nov 2022 | North Korea has fired more than 20 missiles into the sea — the highest number launched in a single day this year.
One of these projectiles crossed the Northern Limit Line, a disputed inter-Korean maritime border.
It is the first time one of Pyongyang’s missiles have come so close to the South, prompting air raid warnings and retaliatory air-to-ground missiles.
Seoul also closed some air routes off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula. South Korea said the series of launches marks the most aggressive provocation by the North in more than a decade.
02 Nov 2022 | North Korea has threatened to use nuclear attack against the United States if it pushes through with the joint ‘vigilant storm’ exercise with South Korea.
South Korea fires back in response to North Korean missile launches
02 November 2022 |
North Korea launched a total of 23 missiles and fired 100 artillery rounds on 02 November 2022, marking it the highest missile launch in a single day so far.
One of the missiles crossed the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the maritime border between the two Koreas, and landed in international waters 60km off the city of Sokcho.
This is the first time in history that a North Korean missile landed south of the NLL. In response, the Republic of Korea Air Force launched 3 guided munitions across the NLL to mirror the North Korean missile impact. KF-16U Viper deployed SPICE 2000 guided bomb and F-15K Slam Eagle deployed AGM-84K SLAM-ER.
The latest North Korean missile launches are likely in protest against the ongoing US-ROK-AUS Vigilant Storm exercise involving 240 aircraft.
Vigilant Storm kicked off on 31 October and will last until 04 November.
Photo: B-52 bomber flies over Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea. The US is preparing to deploy up to six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers in northern Australia. [AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File]
The US and South Korea are conducting large-scale air force exercises this week around the Korean Peninsula. Slated to run from Monday to Friday, these war games are the latest provocative actions conducted by Washington and its allies in the region.
While portrayed as a defensive response to supposed North Korean threats, Washington is sending a signal that there will be no relaxation in its military build-up aimed above all against China.
Known as Vigilant Storm, the exercises are being held for the first time since 2017, and are some of the largest such joint drills conducted by the two militaries, this year involving some 240 aircraft. Pentagon press secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder stated on November 1 that the exercise “is a long-planned exercise focused on enhancing interoperability of our forces to work together to defend the Republic of Korea and our allies in the region.”
The US has deployed more than 100 aircraft including F-35B stealth fighter jets stationed in Okinawa, Japan, EA-18 electronic warfare aircraft, KC-135 tankers, and U-2 reconnaissance planes. South Korea’s contingent includes 140 planes: F-35A stealth fighter jets, F-15K fighters, and KF-16 fighters. An Australian Air Force plane—a KC-30A multi-role tanker transport—is also taking part, a sign of the deepening integration of Canberra into US war plans with regional allies. They are expected to fly some 1,600 sorties throughout the week.
According to the US Air Force, the militaries “will work together with the joint services to perform major air missions such as close air support, defensive counter air, and emergency air operations 24 hours a day during the training period.” It added, “Support forces on the ground will also train their base defense procedures and survivability in case of attack.”
Previously known as Vigilant Ace, these joint air exercises began in 2015 and were held annually until 2017, when they involved some 230 total aircraft from the US and South Korea. Washington then halted the drills as part of the then-Trump administration’s attempts to coax Pyongyang out of China’s orbit with a combination of vague promises of economic support and threats to “totally destroy” the country.
Rather than trying to deescalate the situation, Washington is now deliberately inflaming tensions in the region with the resumption of large-scale war games with South Korea, including Ulchi Freedom Shield in August, goading North Korea, and placing Pyongyang in a situation it feels it must respond. Washington intends to seize on these responses to further justify the militarization of the region and the holding of military drills on China’s doorstep.
On November 1, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry denounced Washington as the “chief culprit in destroying peace and security.” The ministry added that “If the US continuously persists in the grave military provocations, the DPRK [North Korea] will take into account more powerful follow-up measures.”
On November 2, Pyongyang launched at least 23 short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) and surface-to-air missiles, as well as 100 artillery shells into the Sea of Japan and Yellow Sea. One SRMB, the South Korean military claimed, crossed the Sea of Japan’s de facto maritime border separating the two Koreas before landing in international waters. It was reportedly the first time a North Korean missile has gone south of this border since the 1950‒1953 Korean War. Seoul responded by launching three, air-to-surface missiles from fighter jets into international waters north of the border.
Ultimately, the responsibility for these sharp tensions rests with Washington, which has junked the de facto agreement reached between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the pair’s 2018 summit under which North Korea halted its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and nuclear tests in exchange for the US stopping its joint war games with South Korea.
Pyongyang upheld its end of the bargain, and in return hoped to receive economic aid and the lifting of crippling, US-led sanctions. This did not happen. Washington allowed the North Korean situation to fester, so long as Pyongyang did not conduct new tests, allowing the US to focus its energies on stoking war with Russia in Ukraine and with China over Taiwan. This situation initially continued after Joe Biden took office in January 2021.
However, after receiving no relief from Washington in almost five years, Pyongyang in March conducted its first ICBM test since its moratorium on such launches. It followed this up with a second in May, after an inflammatory summit between Biden and then-newly inaugurated South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol in Seoul.
At their summit, Biden and Yoon agreed to deploy US strategic assets to the region while also agreeing to restart the Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group for the first time since January 2018. The group provides Washington and Seoul with the opportunity to discuss strategic and policy issues regarding so-called extended deterrence, including the use of nuclear weapons. Yoon is also pursuing closer relations with Japan, another key demand of Washington’s war planning.
The Biden administration has deliberately precipitated Pyongyang’s spate of missile launches since September, which includes a number of SRMBs, but no ICBM launches. Pyongyang has also refrained from conducting a seventh nuclear test, despite Washington claiming for months that the North is on the verge of doing so. This is part of the US war propaganda designed to obscure its own military escalation while provoking Pyongyang.
This is the same modus operandi that the US has used in its criminal wars in the Middle East and Central Asia over the past three decades: vilify the intended target, magnify the threat posed out of all proportion, mount pressure, economic blockades and threats against the victim, then seize on any response to further escalate the war drive. Significantly the Biden administration has dropped any pretense of taking steps to seek negotiations with North Korea.
The sheer scale of the current Vigilant Storm exercises in comparison to the size of Pyongyang’s response gives the lie to US claims that these war games are defensive in character. North Korea is an impoverished country of 26 million people, largely isolated from the global economy. On the other hand, the United States alone fields a massive military, and is ultimately using the situation on the Korean Peninsula to stoke a war with Beijing, which Washington views as the biggest potential challenge to its global hegemony.