“The exercise provided an opportunity for the alliance to further strengthen its mutual capabilities by demonstrating its combined deterrence capabilities, rapid deployment and extended deterrence in the defense of the Korean Peninsula.”
This US Air Force press release, issued on June 30, describes exercises in South Korea involving intercontinental B-52 bombers with tactical fighter jets. The media message describes a major escalation in the ongoing conflict between North Korea and South Korea.
The B-52 Stratofortresses that flew from the United States in the 1950s and at the height of the Cold War. They have been remodeled over the years but remain essentially as they were designed and built half a century ago.
The B-52 is not only an example of this country’s unique military design and development capabilities, but also a symbolic reminder of the persistence of some of the world’s conflicts and the dire possibility of nuclear war.
This bomber has proven to be flexible and durable in ways not envisioned during its initial creation. In the year Construction in the 1950s was primarily driven by the need to defend the Soviet Union from the delivery of nuclear weapons there and elsewhere. For the next decade, B-52s were delivering conventional bombs on targets in North and South Vietnam during our long war there.
The B-52s in the current exercise flew out of Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. They are different, having been deployed to South Korea since mid-June, from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.
The Biden administration also plans to send the largest nuclear-armed US submarine to South Korea for the first time in four decades. The powerful Ohio-class submarine can stay afloat indefinitely and remain on patrol for months.
Impressive long-range capabilities indicate the technology’s potential to bridge and mitigate the challenges of geography, including extraordinary distances across the Pacific Ocean.
South Korea was also recently visited by the USS Michigan, armed with cruise missiles, capable of great maneuverability and maneuverability in flight. This ship is actively participating in South Korea-US Special Operations training.
The military partnership between the two countries is the closest since the devastating Korean War of 1950 to 1953. During the long Vietnam War, the Republic of Korea maintained approximately fifty thousand troops in South Vietnam.
In contrast to the profiles of American military power, almost all of these soldiers and marines were combat troops. The way they fought caused some controversy, but there is no doubt that they were extremely effective. The North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong revolutionary forces actively tried to avoid contact with the Koreans.
North Korea has been engaged in aggressive long-range missile testing, which has shown improvements in its launch and delivery capabilities. US efforts to curb this dangerous behavior through the United Nations have been consistently undermined by China and Russia.
The expansion of cooperation between Seoul and Washington directly builds on South Korean President Yun Suk-yeol’s successful six-day visit to Washington, D.C. in April, marking the 70th anniversary of the landmark alliance between the two countries.
As emphasized in an earlier column, President Yoon’s noisy North Korea is blocked from the stage left.
He sang Don McLean’s 1971 song “American Pie” at a White House dinner.
– Arthur I. Sr. is the author of “After the Cold War – US Foreign Policy, Europe and Asia” (NYU Press and Palgrave/Macmillan; Korean-language edition by Orum Publishing). He can be reached at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared in The Sturgis Journal: Arthur Sr.: Tensions between North, South Korea reflect deeper realities.