On Thursday, US and South Korean forces conducted live-fire drills to simulate a “full-scale attack” from North Korea in the largest live-fire exercises to demonstrate the countries’ “overwhelming” military capability against North Korean threats, Reuters reported.
During Thursday’s exercises, howitzers were fired into a mountainside near the fortified border between North and South Korea in Poncheon. The drills also include battle tanks firing guns at targets in the area.
About 2,500 US and South Korean troops took part in Thursday’s exercises. According to the South Korean Defense Ministry, four more drills will be conducted over the next few weeks.
In a press release, the Defense Ministry said Thursday’s live-fire drills demonstrate the readiness and capability of the US and South Korean military to “strongly respond” to missile and nuclear threats or a “full-scale attack” from North Korea.
In recent months, the US and South Korea have been holding a variety of training exercises, including sea and air drills using US B-1B bombers, after many military exercises had been scaled back due to the pandemic restrictions as well as the Biden administration’s hopes for restarting diplomatic efforts with Pyongyang.
The recent increase in drills has prompted condemnation from Pyongyang, which has characterized the exercises as US and South Korean forces preparing to invade North Korea.
In mid-May, Reuters reported that Kim Jong Un had approved the final preparations to launch his country’s first military spy satellite which Kim said was necessary to counter the threats from South Korea and the United States.
According to analysts, the military satellite will improve Pyongyang’s surveillance capability while enabling it to more accurately strike targets in the event of war.
Based on recent commercial satellite imagery, progress is underway for a new launch pad at North Korea’s satellite launching station, according to the US-based monitoring group 38 North.