US, S. Korea Launch Live-Fire Military Drills North of Seoul

Posted June 22nd, 2012 at 8:40 am (UTC-5)
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South Korean and U.S. warplanes fired rockets and dropped bombs on mock targets near the North Korean border Friday, in some of the largest live-fire maneuvers since the end of the Korean War.

U.S. tanks and Apache helicopters pounded targets at Pocheon, as some 2,000 U.S. paratroopers and South Korean combat troops maneuvered nearby.

“We are fully prepared to suppress the enemy's provocation, and if provoked we can swiftly retaliate.”

The two allies will launch a separate three-day naval exercise in the Yellow Sea Saturday. The carrier USS George Washington strike group is set to participate in those maneuvers. A South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman described the naval drills as an annual event.

“The U.S.-South Korea combined maritime maneuvering exercises begin tomorrow (Saturday), and last until the 25th off the west coast (of South Korea). This (drill) is held every year, taking place in the East and West Sea alternately. Approximately 8,000 south Korean and U.S. soldiers will participate, along with 10 South Korean warships.”

Earlier this week, Pyongyang described the exercises as part of a “clamor for invasion of the North that makes the situation worse.”

Seoul rejected the provocation charges, with the defense ministry telling reporters that no military can improve its capabilities without training.