Kim Jong Un has been ramping up his missile testing and assurances that North Korea is a country capable of using nuclear weapons. Given the frequency with which he has been testing, it has become more of a certainty that he would use them if given a chance, and now South Korea and the US are doing everything within their power to showcase the level of destruction they will be bringing upon themselves should they decide to attack.
Colonel Samuel Meyer, commander of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit spoke with CNN about their latest training to land on a beach. “I don’t think we’re doing anything different or odd,” he said, as 23-ton amphibious assault vehicles crashed into the beaches of Pohang. “This is the 70th anniversary of this exercise. It’s not new. This is routine. We’re just getting back to the routine, based on what we saw and experienced.”
Just across the border in North Korea, the State ran media was busy pressing the flesh as they plastered the airwaves and newspapers with images of their Dear Leader having a closer look at their alleged nuclear weapons. During this inspection, he called on his troops to be ready to go “anytime and anywhere.”
North of that, North Korea’s ally (by association) Russia was also conducting its own missile testing as they lobbed cruise missiles at a target in the Korean peninsula. Additionally, they have stationed their intelligence ship to watch over the Makin Island doing the same thing the Chinese did when the US was in the South China Sea.
“Exercise Ssang Yong” as the US and South Korea called it has not been held for five years. With diplomacy talks under President Trump and then COVID, there was no need to hold the exercises. Yet as Kim continues his testing barrage and saber rattling, the military of South Korea needs to go full force to be prepared for the possibility of an attack.
With a slowly increasing push, North Korea has been gearing up since talks broke down with President Trump in 2019. Despite having three meetings between the leaders, and Trump becoming the first American President to cross the border, it seemed like Kim felt slighted when nothing could be agreed upon.
Since then, the country has returned to its nuclear testing and missile testing schedule at a ramped-up speed. While North Korea has had multiple reports of underground nuclear testing over the last few years, not much has been heard on that in months. Instead, they have been concentrating on intercontinental ballistic missiles, intending to put one right in the heartland of the US.
Naturally, the response to these lofty ambitions has not been positive. Even Japan is now coming back to the table with South Korea to present a tripod against North Korea along with their Chinese backing and Russian backing by proxy. While this level of cooperation (in various ways) has not been seen in decades, it was back in 1950 when Korea broke apart that the amphibious landings were so crucial.
The 1950 Battle of Incheon is known as the best use of that landing in the history of warfare. During that battle, the US and allied ships were able to keep the North Koreans held in the port of Incheon as Marines took three separate beaches just over 100 miles away. This forced the North Koreans to pull back and defend themselves and pulled back out of Seoul. Less than two weeks later the US and South Korea fully regained control of Seoul.
Cooperation between these countries doesn’t come easy, nor does it come cheap. However, it is necessary for them to keep evil at bay. Working together on training exercises like this one ensures that should the need arise South Korean troops and US troops can work hand in hand at a moment’s notice.