What drives ROK, US to restart theater-level military exercises after five years?

China Military Online
Wang Xinjuan
2023-03-20 18:03:50

By Wang Bing

US Navy's nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz ( File photo/ Xinhua International)

According to foreign media reports, the Freedom Shield (FS) joint military exercise held by the ROK and the US militaries has begun on March 13 and is expected to conclude on March 23, the longest exercise ever in the history of the ROK-US military exercises. The ROK-US FS exercise is a theater-level large-scale exercise that was resumed after 5 years. What signals have the ROK and the US released to the outside world by holding the exercise?

According to Teng Jianqun, a military observer, this joint military exercise is more focused on the exercise of offensive capabilities in terms of exercise courses in addition to the upgraded scale. The ROK-US FS exercise includes amphibious landing operations, fighting for air and sea superiority, as well as courses including detachment coordination and ground assault featuring extremely strong offensiveness in operations. The FS exercise is not of a defensive type, but a "spear" targeting the country concerned.

What are the real intentions of the US?

It is reported that during the FS exercise, the ROK and the US will also hold more than 20 drills. The US military in the ROK is promoting the involvement of the USS Nimitz nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in thejoint carrier strike group (CSG) drill, and intends to invite Japan to participate in its joint anti-missile drill.

Teng Jianqun pointed out that the US has aimed to further strengthen its control over Northeast Asia with the ever-expanding US-ROK military exercises. After taking office, US President Joe Biden has continuously strengthened military deployment and military exercises in the ROK, aiming to seize the opportunity by creating tensions, and strengthening control over the ROK and Japan while adjusting the military deployment.

File Photo: US F-35A fighter jet (Source: www.huanqiu.com)

The ROK also has its own considerations

While the US continues to strengthen military ties with the ROK, the ROK President Yoon Suk-yeol also seems to be stepping even closer to the US. According to reports, the ROK has planned to purchase an additional batch of F-35A fighter jets from the US to increase the size of its aircraft fleet, together with Standard Missile-6 (SM-6), a ship-launched anti-air and anti-surface interceptor missile, to equip the Aegis destroyers of the ROK Navy.

Teng Jianqun believed that the ROK is attempting to leverage the power of the US to enhance its military capabilities and regional influence by continuously strengthening its military alliance with the US. The ROK has two plans: one is to release its military production capacity by following the US; the other is to improve its own military level and play a greater role in regional affairs following the US to demonstrate the ROK's capabilities in defense and security.

When will the situation on the Korean Peninsula get stable?

During the intensive joint exercises between the ROK and the US, the presence of the US B-52 Stratofortress bombers has further boosted tensions on the Korean Peninsula. In response, the DPRK has repeatedly issued warnings, and there have been several demonstrations against the joint military exercises in the ROK.

Teng Jianqun believed that the ROK's attempt to accelerate the development of its military capabilities by depending on the US is but to quench thirst with poison, and may ultimately be reduced to a strategic vassal of the US to exacerbate the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Due to the fact that the US holds the wartime command of the ROK, the ROK's military development is likely to act as a cat's-paw for the US. Once necessary, the ROK may be incorporated into the US combat system. It is impossible for the US to personally engage in the conflicts in the Korean Peninsula region; instead, it may just hide behind the scenes and intensify conflicts between the countries concerned. The current "development" of the ROK will only have a negative impact on regional peace and stability and the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

Editor's note: Originally published on cnr.cn, this article is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information and opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.

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