Thursday, December 23, 2010


SEOUL: South Korea Military on Thursday started a main live fire drill in which tanks, artillery and jet fighters were participated to show country’s strength in response one month after North Korea’s deadly attack on a border island. 
A defence ministry spokesman said that one hour live fire exercise at Pocheon, 30 K.M. south of the tense land border with North Korea start at 2.43 PM.  It is the major ground-air joint fire drill of this year.
About 800 troops are participating including 30 K-1 tanks, 11 K-200 armored personnel carriers, two F-15K jets, four KF-16 jets, 36 K-9 artillery pieces, three multiple long-range rockets, four 500MD helicopters, three AH-1S Cobra helicopters, and other equipment. The navy is also launching a 4 day exercise off the east coast, which began Wednesday.
The South Korea says its exercises are only self-protective purpose but tensions have been raised since November 23, when North Korea shelled a South Korean island near the challenged western sea border. The North said the shelling was in the reaction to a live fire drill on Yeonpyeong Island.
The South said that it had been performing such type artillery exercises for more than 37 years and the North was looking for a cause to attack. The South perform a revised drill on the same island on Monday with jet fighters and warships but North did not chase through with the danger to hit back.
Some experts say that South’s demonstration of force is for discouraging to North. Others said the hard-line regime had been told by close friend China to workout restraint before a visit to Washington by President Hu Jintao starting on January 19.
The South’s government requested students and other civilians to observe the exercises. Kim Tae-Dong, a 70-year-old Internet businessman told the reporter “We are facing severe crises due to North Korea, So I came to see these air and ground exercises. “I would like to be aware and see the rank of South Korea’s armed forces,” Kim said.
Another Korean said that when North Korean aggression will start, our army must be prepared for responding with force.
The South’s claims that the drills are routine were an attempt “to cover up the challenging and offensive nature of the exercises” the North’s official news agency said.
By North Korea’s standards, the wording was relatively soft. In another aspect that apprehensions are easing, the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it had lowered a military alert issued for frontline areas before and during Monday’s drill.
The US, which has deployed 28,500 troops in South Korea, warned North Korea there was no motive for it to respond to the present exercises.
White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs said these exercises had been announced earlier and the purposes were very clear and defensive, so North Korea neither should not considered endanger and nor respond this.
According to the Korean Daily newspaper “Joong Ang” that as the North had not succeeded to respond to Monday’s drill, the two militaries were jockeying for position behind the scenes.
The newspaper extracting Seoul military basis said the North had made preparations to fire anti-aircraft missiles.

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