North shows off its own exercises

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North shows off its own exercises

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un supervised large-scale landing and repulsion drills aimed at the South, North Korean state media reported on Sunday.

The drills seem to be in response to large joint amphibious landing exercises conducted by Seoul and Washington earlier this month in Pohang, North Gyeongsang, according to a South Korean military official.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported that Kim predicted at the exercise that a surprise landing and attack could “result in a victorious battle.”

He said the training, based on the Juche (self-reliance) ideology, would “bury at sea any enemy groups.” The remarks seem to be directed at Seoul and Washington as he called for an operation to neutralize the enemy’s repulsion efforts in an amphibious battle.

Ships from the Navy’s East Sea Fleet, aircraft from its Air Force Second Air Division, and artillery sub-units took part in the drill, according to KNCA. Though no date was specified for the exercise, analysts speculated that it took place on Friday. Kim was accompanied by top aides including Hwang Pyong-so, director of the North’s Korean People’s Army’s general political bureau and Ri Myong-su, chief of the General Staff of the army.

Meanwhile, the South Korean Marine Corps created a new mobile unit that can reach any part of Korea within 24 hours should there be an attack on the country, according to a military official here Sunday.

The regimental-level unit of 3,000 troops was established at the beginning of this month under the 1st Marine Division in Pohang, North Gyeongsang, according to the Marine Corps official, and is the first of its kind.

It is expected to have a faster response time than the quick reaction force (QRF) military battalion-level units deployed in the past.

The official added that originally, when there was an operation to be carried out on the Korean Peninsula, it took 24 hours for a battalion-level unit to be deployed and 48-hours for a regimental-level unit.

“However, with the newly established quick maneuver unit, the operation will be able to be carried out within 24 hours,” he added.

The unit, referred to as “Spartan 3000” after the Greek warriors, was formed as the Marine Corps saw the need for a speedy response in case of emergency with the constant development of enemy weapons.

The wartime operational capability of the unit was received between March 7 and 18 during a joint amphibious landing drill, or the Ssangyong exercise between South Korea and United States, which targeted demolishing key North Korean facilities.

This is in accordance with Seoul and Washington’s new military strategy operation plan, Oplan 5015, which calls for a deterrence of North Korea’s possible use of weapons of mass destruction through a preemptive attack.

The United States and South Korea are in the middle of their largest-ever annual joint military drills, Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, which run through next month.

BY SARAH KIM, KIM HYOUNG-GU and JEONG YONG-SOO [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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