Next week’s series of large-scale, joint U.S. South Korean military exercises intended to send a message to North Korea to quit sinking South Korean navy ships will go by the name “Invincible Spirit,” officials announced today in Seoul.
The exercises will involve some 8,000 military personnel from both countries, some 18 ships, including the USS George Washington carrier strike group, and over 100 aircraft. The Air Force is also getting in on the act, sending the F-22 Raptor for its first in-theater exercises.
Adm. Robert Willard, commander Pacific Command, said the exercises will take place on the east side of the Korean peninsula, in the Sea of Japan. Future exercises may be in the Yellow Sea, on the west side of the Korean peninsula, adjacent to China, but Willard wouldn’t say whether those exercises would include the George Washington.
It looks like there will be a lot of sonars banging away in the Sea of Japan, along with sub-hunting P-3s overhead, as Willard said anti-submarine warfare exercises will feature prominently. Investigators say a North Korean midget sub sank the South Korean frigate Cheonan in March, killing 46 South Korean sailors.
– Greg Grant