SEOUL, Jan. 5 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s Navy conducted its first live-fire drills of the year earlier this week, officials said Thursday, in a major display of naval might against evolving North Korean threats.
Designed to check the Navy’s combat readiness, the annual drills took place in waters off the country’s eastern, western and southern coasts on Wednesday, involving flagship warships and personnel from the Navy’s 1st, 2nd and 3rd Fleets.
“We will build a firm readiness posture, with which we can sternly punish any enemy provocations,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lee Jong-ho was quoted as saying as he oversaw the drills aboard the P-3C patrol aircraft.
For the “high-intensity” drills, the Navy mobilized 13 vessels, including the 3,200-ton Eulji Mundeok destroyer, and four aircraft, with a focus on enhancing each fleet’s mission capabilities to safeguard their areas of maritime operations.
The 2nd Fleet conducted live-fire and tactical maneuver training in waters west of Taean County, 109 kilometers southwest of Seoul, while the 1st and 3rd Fleets carried out the drills in the East Sea and waters west of the southwestern island of Heuksan, respectively.
During his onsite guidance, Adm. Lee stressed the importance of “realistic” training. “(I) call for a strong and realistic training by enhancing our troops’ will to fight and strengthening them mentally,” Lee said.
Capt. Kim Kook-hwan, chief of the 3,200-ton KDX-I destroyer, Eulji Mundeok, highlighted his unit’s determination to fend off enemy threats.
“If an enemy provokes, we will retaliate against it, like out of a conditioned reflex, and conclude our operation in a victory,” he said.
In the wake of the North’s continued provocations, including the firing of shots from what it claimed to be a “super-large” multiple rocket launcher, the South Korean military has publicized military drills in a show of its deterrence capabilities.