US Defense Missile Agency, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor launch during testing, Wake Island, 1 Nov 2015, by Ben Listerman

US Military and South Korea in Foal Eagle Exercise

U.S. and South Korean military members joined together March 1 to participate in exercise Foal Eagle 2017, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters today.

About 3,600 U.S. service members were deployed to join the 28,000 U.S. troops already based in South Korea for the annual exercise, which will run through April 30, Davis said.

He described the exercise as a series of joint and combined ground, air, naval and special operations field exercises, adding that it is designed in the spirit of the U.S.-South Korean mutual defense treaty of 1953.

40 Years of Joint Military Exercises

“These exercises are defensive in nature, and they have been carried out regularly, openly and transparently for nearly 40 years,” Davis said.

Conducted as a clear demonstration of the U.S. commitment to the alliance, he said, Foal Eagle 2017 is designed to increase readiness to defend South Korea, to protect the region, and to maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Preparing for THAAD

Earlier this week, when Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo spoke by phone, Mattis welcomed the land transfer in South Korea that will support stationing the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, also known as THAAD, Davis said.

“It remains our intent to have [THAAD] there and in an operational state as soon as feasible,” he said. “This is a critical measure that we’re taking to defend the Korean people and alliance forces against North Korean missile threats, a very serious threat as highlighted by the Feb. 12 ballistic missile launch by North Korea.

“[North Korea’s] unlawful weapons program represents a clear, grave threat to our national security,” said the captain continued. “They have openly stated that their ballistic missiles are intended to deliver nuclear weapons to strike cities in the United States, Republic of Korea and Japan.”
US Department of Defense

Photo: A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense interceptor is launched from a THAAD battery on Wake Island a Nov. 1, 2015, operational flight test. During the test, the THAAD system successfully intercepted two air-launched ballistic missile targets. Defense Missile Agency photo by Ben Listerman.