About the Author
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
The U.S., South Korean, and Japanese militaries on Tuesday began a two-day missile warning exercise near the Korean peninsula, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) announced.
“This training is designed to prepare for North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threats according to the agreement results of the 48th ROK-U.S. Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) held in October 2016,” the JCS said in a written statement.
“The three countries, South Korea, the U.S., and Japan, are staging the missile warning exercise near the waters of the South and Japan between [October] 24 and 25,” the statement added.
The South Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND) said on September 18 in a report for National Assembly’s defense committee that the exercise would be staged between late September and early October, but the drill appears to have been delayed.
South Korea’s Aegis destroyer Yulgok YiYi (DDG-992), the U.S. guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) and USS Decatur (DDG 73), and Japan’s Kirishima (DDG-174) destroyer participated in the drill.
The drill, a trilateral missile warning informational link exercise (LINKEK), is aimed at improving inter-allied procedures for detecting and tracking enemy rockets but does not include plans for interception of enemy projectiles.
During the exercise, Aegis warships from Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo will exchange information while detecting and tracking computer-simulated targets modeled on North Korean ballistic missiles.
The JCS said this is the fifth missile warning exercise since the first drill in June 2016.
Pacific Dragon, a trilateral ballistic missile defense (BMD) tracking exercise between the U.S. Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), and the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) was previously conducted in accordance with the Trilateral Information Sharing Agreement (TISA).
Three other drills were staged in November 2016 and January and March this year, but Tuesday’s is the first to take place since Pyongyang’s test-firing of the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) at a normal trajectory over Japan on August 29 and September 15.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Japanese defense minister Itsunori Onodera, and South Korean Minister of National Defense Song Young-moo held a 9th Trilateral Defense Ministerial Meeting on Monday in Clark, the Philippines.
The defense chiefs had “substantive discussions” on North Korea at the meeting on the 2017 ASEAN Defense Ministerial Meeting Plus.
“The three Ministers lauded collective efforts to expand information sharing on North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats and enhance response capabilities, including the execution of multiple combined flight training missions with U.S. bomber aircraft,” the joint press statement read. “They also committed to continue missile warning and anti-submarine warfare exercises.”
Mattis will visit South Korea to co-chair the 49th annual Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) with Song on Saturday.
Featured Image: U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), file photo of USS Stethem
Edited by Oliver Hotham