US, South Korea Step Up Preparations Amid North Korean Threats
(SEOUL, South Korea) — U.S. officials say they haven’t detected any movement by the North Korean military to back up its recent threats. The talk of war is creating concern in South Korea, where the new president is instructing the military to respond strongly if North Korea attacks.
Sixty-one-year-old Park Geun-hye, who is the first female president of South Korea, is only a month into her presidency as rumblings of war have provided a major test. Her father, the president of South Korea in the 1970s, and her mother were both assassinated. Her mother’s killer was traced back to a North Korean sympathizer.
A U.S. Defense official Monday confirmed to ABC News that the Navy has shifted a guided-missile destroyer in the Pacific Ocean to an area closer to North Korea in response to ongoing threats. Moving the destroyer gives better options to commanders on the ground, better intelligence and provides a quicker reaction time if something happens.
While it is somewhat of an escalation in U.S. response to the threats, it is not a major change in the Navy’s posture. Two weeks ago, the U.S. Navy had two ships in the same area for an exercise. During the week following the conclusion of the exercise, however, there were no ships there. Now, given the increased tension and rhetoric in the region, the Navy has returned a ship back to the area.
The U.S. has also stepped up its show of force, flying two F-22 stealth fighters over South Korea Sunday. The jets were flown in from Japan to take part in joint military exercises held between the U.S. and South Korea this time every year.
“Two F22 Raptor aircraft from the 94th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan deployed to Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea (ROK) on March 31, 2013. This is the 4th time the F22 has deployed to South Korea,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said Monday in a statement.
“The aircraft are on static display at Osan Air Base as part of the Foal Eagle exercise to provide bilateral training for the U.S. and ROK military and to provide South Korean senior leaders with an orientation to the aircraft, which are an advanced capability that is available for the defense of South Korea.”
Last week, the U.S. also sent two B-2 stealth bombers from Missouri to South Korea and back to participate in the drills.
The 13,000-mile roundtrip was meant to demonstrate that the U.S. is committed to defending South Korea and that it has the ability “to conduct long range, precision strikes quickly and at will,” the military said in a statement.
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