'Vigilant Storm'; largest US-S.Korea military drill yet against DPRK
The joint drills were condemned by North Korea as a "rehearsal for invasion and proof of hostile policies by Washington and Seoul."
The US and South Korean militaries launched the largest ever military exercises on Monday, due to last for five days and with hundreds of warplanes bound to participate in 1,600 sorties in attack preparation courses 24 hours per day, Reuters reported.
According to a US Air Force statement, Operation Vigilant Storm is the largest since 2017 intended to fend off alleged encroachments from North Korea's military.
The joint drills were condemned by North Korea as a "rehearsal for invasion and proof of hostile policies by Washington and Seoul," but per Reuters, allies consider the drills a requirement due to the North Korean military launching a high number of missiles this year, which, in their turn, were in response to growing US influence in the region alongside South Korea.
The nuclear policy pertaining to North Korea was strengthened by its leader, Kim Jong Un, who stated earlier this month that the recent launches were "tactical nuclear" drills intended as a "warning" to the duo - the US and South Korea.
In July, Jong Un pointed out that Washington continues "dangerous, illegal hostile acts" with South Korea and seeks to justify its behavior by "demonizing" the country. He considered that "the duplex act of the United States, which is misleading all the routine actions of our armed forces as 'provocation' and 'threat' while holding large-scale joint military exercises that seriously threaten our security, is literally a robbery."
In the US Air Force statement, it was conveyed that both the South Korean and US Air Forces "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" lasting through the end of the week Friday," adding that "support forces on the ground will also train their base defense procedures and survivability in case of attack."
Most recently, the US and South Korea, along with Tokyo, conducted military drills off the coast of Hawaii for the first time in several years. Last month, the DPRK Foreign Ministry said the joint US-South Korea military exercises in the future could bring the Korean Peninsula back to a state of war.
The situation in the region escalated following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's recent visit to Taiwan. China considers Taiwan part of its territory and opposes any direct official foreign contact with the island. Washington's exercises with Japan and South Korea against the DPRK were held in conjunction with the recent tensions.
The spokesperson of the US Department of Defense, Pat Ryder, welcomed earlier this month any efforts to promote a positive and constructive dialogue with the DPRK. Ryder's comments came in response to a question by Al Mayadeen correspondent and revolved around the Pentagon currently being focused on working with US allies and partners in the region to prevent any "threat" from the DPRK.
In that regard, Ryder affirmed Washington's commitment to defend its allies within the Korean peninsula and throughout the region. The spokesperson also urged Pyongyang to end what he described as "destabilizing actions".