South Korea and the United States are currently conducting an 11-day large-scale military exercise that started on March 13, 2023. The two exercises to be used will be computer-simulated training (Freedom Shield) and large-scale joint field training (Warrior Shield FTX). A recent military statement said that these exercises are meant to further enhance the Republic of Korea (ROK) and U.S. military cooperation through “air, land, sea, space, cyber and special operations, and improve upon tactics, techniques, and procedures.”
By learning from current and ongoing conflicts, combat readiness and defense posture is expected to increase, as well as strengthen the security and stability of the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia. This course of action was a response to North Korea launching at least two strategic cruise missiles toward the Sea of Japan earlier this month.
As a matter of fact, North Korea test-fired over 70 missiles that, included intercontinental ballistic missiles with the potential range to reach the U.S. mainland and short-range, nuclear-capable missiles that could target South Korea in 2022. It is clear that these nuclear threats continue to grow, and if we recall, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called for an “exponential increase” in his country’s nuclear weapons arsenal in response to what he claims are threats from South Korea and the United States.
Experts say that the “U.S., Japanese, and South Korean strategic planners now have to consider the possibility that North Korea might opt to strike first in a crisis. However foolish and suicidal such a strike would be.” Could this year prove to be even more perilous than the last?