The United States Marines and the South Korean military have reportedly canceled their planned amphibious landing drills this week. The joint military exercises will serve as a show of force and cooperation between the two groups. According to a report from Yonhap, the long-delayed combined military exercise, which was supposed to be held at the southern coast of the South Korean peninsula, is part of an annual event that is meant to sharpen the cooperative skills of both militaries. The beach landing was scheduled to take place tomorrow, April 5 in the city of Pohang, but reports have revealed that it has been canceled due to bad weather conditions. The week-long drills, referred locally as the Ssangyong or twin dragon drills, started on Sunday and will include several other military exercises over land, sea, and air.
Several assets from the country have mobilized to join the drill. The assets include the United States Navy’s 40,500-ton multipurpose amphibious assault ship, the USS Wasp. The USS Wasp, along with other ships in her class, is capable of deploying massive amounts of troops over the beach using its Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) system. The ship is also capable of carrying several F-35B stealth fighters. The particular aircraft is capable of vertically landing and flying off the ship. The USS Wasp is also being accompanied by the USS Bonhomme Richard, named after John Paul Jones’ famous frigate. The vessel is similarly equipped as the USS Wasp in its beach landing capabilities.
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There are reportedly over 11,000 U.S. Marines who are participating in the military drills. Most of the troops had previously been stationed in Okinawa, Japan, and were sent to the peninsula specifically for the event. There are reportedly almost 300,000 South Korean troops joining the week-long event.
The scale of the Ssangyong drills is normally escalated on even-numbered years, which means that this year’s exercise is expected to be done on a massive scale. However, a report from the Korea Herald reveals that the “D-Day” program and other military exercises have been downplayed this year. Previously, both groups allowed the media to cover all of its exercises, but that apparently isn’t the case for this year’s drills, as there are fears that publicizing the event may negatively impact the uneasy peace in the peninsula.