Pentagon steps up military drills in South Korea to intimidate North

In the midst of annual joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises, it has been revealed SEAL Team Six, Gray Eagle unmanned aerial vehicles and a Navy aircraft carrier have been sent to the troubled Korean peninsula.

The deployment of drones is reportedly permanent; the insertion of SEALs and USS Carl Vinson are temporary.  SEAL Team Six was the unit tasked with carrying out the mission which killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin-Laden in 2011.

“The U.S. Army, after coordination with the Republic of Korea Armed Forces and the U.S. Air Force, has begun the process to permanently station a Gray Eagle Unmanned Aerial Systems company at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea,” spokesman Christopher Bush said in a statement.

“The [unmanned aerial system] adds significant intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability to U.S. Forces Korea and our [South Korean] partners.”

The Gray Eagle weapon platform is capable of being armed with either four AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles or four GPS-aided GBU-44/B Viper Strike glide bombs.

A defensive training exercise known as Foal Eagle, the 2017 version conducted between the two nations is the largest to date. The drills are conducted on air, sea and land.  28,000 U.S. troops are joined by over 500,000 South Korean military personnel in the drills.

“A bigger number of and more diverse U.S. special operation forces will take part in this year’s Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercises to practice missions to infiltrate into the North, remove the North’s war command and demolition of its key military facilities,” said a South Korean Ministry of Defense official.

The once-a-year military exercises have long incensed North Korea. The latest round of drills also includes F-18 fighter jets deployed from the USS Carl Vinson, a move North Korea has labeled “reckless”.

“If they infringe on (North Korea’s) sovereignty and dignity even a bit, its army will launch merciless ultra-precision strikes from ground, air, sea and underwater,” warned Pyongyang’s state news organization, KCNA.

The move to send  Army Special Forces and F-35 fighter bombers follows President Trump preparing to send B-52 bombers to South Korea in response to a series of missiles fired into the Sea of Japan March 5–6.

The joint military exercises are scheduled to conclude at the end of April.

 

[ZeroHedge] [RT News] [Reuters] [Photo courtesy EPA via Daily Mail]