The United States Army and the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) recently conducted a joint ship-to-shore air assault anti-North Korean WMD drill, the 1st Infantry Division of the U.S. Army revealed on Tuesday night, in operations only widely publicized in South Korea on Thursday.
The U.S. Army said the drill, dubbed “Warrior Strike 7”, was conducted at Camp Stanley and the Rodriguez Live Fire Complex, both of which lie north of Seoul, but didn’t provide details on the day the raid took place and the number of participating soldiers.
Two groups of the 1st Infantry Division took part: the Iron Rangers of the 16th Infantry Regiment and the 2nd Battalion of the 34th Armored Regiment, as well as units from the 2nd Infantry Division.
“The Iron Rangers conducted a ship-to-shore Air Assault from a ROK Navy ship to an underground training facility,” the Iron Rangers said on Tuesday.
The divisions took part in an air assault designed to “simulate a counter-WMD operation” launched from the 14,500-ton Dokdo-class Landing Platform Helicopter amphibious assault ship (LPH 6111) – the largest warship in South Korea’s navy.
The drill would be the “first time in recent history” that the U.S. Army conducted an assault from an ROK Navy ship, Brigadier General David J. Francis, deputy commander of the 2nd Infantry Division of the 8th U.S. Army, told a summit in Nashville, Tennessee in late April, several weeks ahead of the operation.
Francis said that the Warrior Strike exercises would enable the U.S. and the South to prepare for a future assault on North Korean WMD-holding sites.
“We know for a fact [North Korea] has multiple locations that have WMD, and those sites are important to us,” Francis said.
“So, while we are conducting direct action, combined arms maneuvers to defeat and destroy enemy forces, we are also focused on getting control of all of those sites that contain WMD.”
South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) declined to comment on whether the drill is related to counter-WMD operations, but photos released by the 1st Infantry Division showed a mock nuclear warhead and chemical substances located at an imitation underground facility.
While details were not given about the scale of the drills, previous “Warrior Strike” drills in February and March offer clues as to how many troops may have participated.
Warrior Strike 6 was staged alongside the annual joint Key Resolve and Foal Eagle military drills at the Rodriguez Live Fire Range in Pocheon on March 21 and 22, according to the 1st Infantry Division.
400 U.S. and South Korean troops took part in the exercise, whose stated purpose was to allow the soldiers to hone their skills in counter-WMD operations.
U.S. soldiers dropped from Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters to meet South Korean troops and assault an imitation village containing multiple booby-trapped labs suspected of making the lethal sarin nerve agent.
Warrior Strike 5 was conducted at the same location between February 14 and 17. More than 400 U.S. soldiers from Task Force Iron Rangers and around 200 South Korean Army soldiers participated in the exercise.
U.S. and South Korean soldiers conducted an “air assault into the Rodriguez Live Fire Complex, locating WMDs and seizing an objective,” according to the 1st Infantry Division.
Meanwhile, South Korean Navy said on Tuesday that a U.S. aircraft carrier-led strike group has been participating in U.S. – South Korean joint military exercises on the Korean Peninsula since the end of the April, with the closing date for the operations yet to be decided.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division
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