U.S., South Korea naval forces conduct exercise near North Korea border

The U.S. and South Korean naval forces conducted a joint exercise near the North Korean maritime border as a warning to Pyongyang on Monday.

The 9,500-ton U.S. Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Spruance joined South Korea’s 7,600-ton Aegis destroyer Yulgok YiYi.

A 1,200-ton South Korean submarine and the anti-submarine helicopter Lynx were deployed alongside U.S. P-3 patrol aircraft.

The purpose of the training was to improve precision strike capabilities against enemy ground targets and to closely simulate wartime scenarios, according to Yonhap.

The exercise on Monday marks the first time joint forces conducted naval training in an area closest to North Korea’s maritime border in the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan.

Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Korea and Task Force 78, said the exercises signal U.S. commitment to deterrence.

“We work side by side with our [South Korean] partners every day; we are by their side today at sea, and we will remain by their side to defend against North Korea’s unprovoked acts of aggression,” Cooper said in a statement released Monday.

South Korea’s navy said that the training is a response to recent North Korean provocations, and the exercise sends a strong message to Pyongyang that continued acts of aggression would be tackled jointly.

Drills included identifying enemy submarine maneuvers in a wide range of environments and practicing tactical moves.

U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Vincent Brooks said the exercise was a response to unacceptable North Korea provocations that threaten the stability of the Korean peninsula and the region,

The training only partly demonstrated joint capabilities, Brooks said.

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