The US and South Korea on Thursday held massive live-fire drills near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) border in the latest provocation toward Pyongyang that will likely provoke North Korean missile tests.
According to the South Korean news agency Yonhap, the exercises are the US and South Korea’s largest-ever combined live-fire joint drills, and they were held just 25 kilometers south of the DMZ.
The exercises, dubbed the “Combined annihilation firepower drills,” are the first of five rounds of live-fire drills that will be held through mid-June and commemorate the 70th anniversary of the US-South Korean alliance.
Similar exercises have been held 11 times since 1977. According to AP, This year’s iteration involves 2,500 troops from both nations and 610 weapons systems, including fighter jets, attack helicopters, drones, tanks, and artillery.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry said the drills simulated artillery attacks on North Korean military facilities, and troops practiced precision-guided strikes to “completely annihilate” North Korean military threats.
The US and South Korea have resumed massive war games after a years-long pause that was achieved due to the Trump administration’s attempts at diplomacy with Pyongyang. But tensions are now soaring on the peninsula, and the North has fired over 100 missiles since 2022.
In a move that will raise tensions even more, President Biden recently announced a nuclear-armed submarine will be docking in South Korea soon, marking the first deployment of US nuclear weapons to the peninsula in decades.