Thousands of US marines joined South Korean troops to practice an amphibious invasion on Tuesday, March 28 imitating a military scenario incase war breaks out between South and North Korea.
North Korea has been building up a ballistic missile arsenal on the premise that it needs to deter an attack on it by US and South Korean forces.
Washington and Seoul in response have been carrying out exercises, all of which the two allies say are defensive in nature.
But on Wednesday morning, March 29 the US and South Korea used thousands of troops and high-end weaponry to practice an amphibious invasion, a maneuver offensive in its nature and designed to take territory, not defend it.
The commander of the 2,200 US Marines involved in Exercise Ssang Yong in Pohang on the southern coast of South Korea said;
“I don’t think we’re doing anything different or odd,” said Col. Samuel Meyer, commander of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
During the full offensive training, South Korean Marines came ashore first in waves of 23-ton amphibious assault vehicles.
As the South Korean Marines moved to a tree line behind the beach, huge US Navy hovercraft, known as LCACs, followed, disgorging eight-wheeled amphibious vehicles .While this was ongoing an 98,000-ton US Navy aircraft carrier, the USS Nimitz, was conducting operations of its own off the peninsula.
In the skies above were attack helicopters, Osprey transports and F-35B stealth fighters, 10 of which were embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island, lurking 30 miles off shore.
“This is the 70th anniversary of this exercise. It’s not new,” Meyer said, dismissing claims by Pyongyang that the US is forcing North Korea to build up its nuclear program as deterrence.
“This is routine. We’re just getting back to the routine, based on what we saw and experienced,” the US Marine colonel said.
Closer to the Pohang beach, at least six South Korean naval vessels could be seen in support, sending troops ashore for Exercise Ssang Yong.
Also on Wednesday morning, North Korean state media released pictures of leader Kim Jong Un inspecting what it claimed were nuclear weapons, and calling on his forces to be able to use them “anytime and anywhere.”