The tensions between North Korea and South Korea reflect deep realities

“The training provided the alliance with the opportunity to further strengthen its interoperability by demonstrating combined defense capability, rapid deployment and extensive deterrence in the defense of the Korean Peninsula.”

This US Air Force press release, issued on June 30, describes exercises in South Korea involving intercontinental B-52 bombers as well as tactical fighter jets. The media message describes a significant escalation in the ongoing confrontation between North Korea and South Korea.

Arthur I. Cyr

Arthur I. Cyr

The B-52 Stratofortresses that traveled from the United States date from the 1950s and the height of the Cold War. They have undergone renovations over the years, but essentially remain as they were designed and built over half a century ago.

The B-52 is not only an example of this country’s exceptional military design and development capabilities, but also a symbolic reminder of the continuity of some conflicts around the world as well as the horrific possibility of war. nuclear.

This bomber turned out to be flexible and durable, unforeseen in the original creation. Construction in the 1950s was primarily a function of the need to deter the Soviet Union through the potential delivery of nuclear weapons to targets there and elsewhere. Over the next decade, B-52s were actually dropping conventional bombs on targets in North and South Vietnam during our long war there.

The current exercise’s B-52s flew from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. They are separated from the others, deployed in South Korea since mid-June, who are from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.

Additionally, the Biden administration plans to send the largest US nuclear-armed submarine to South Korea for the first time in four decades. The mighty Ohio-class submarine is capable of staying submerged indefinitely and remaining on patrol for months.

Remarkable long-range capabilities clearly represent the technology’s capabilities to bridge and minimize the challenges of geography, including the exceptional distances across the Pacific Ocean.

South Korea was also recently visited by the USS Michigan, a cruise missile-armed submarine capable of great flexibility and deception in flight. This ship is actively involved in combined South Korea-US special operations training.

The military partnership between our two nations is exceptionally close, dating back to the devastating Korean War of 1950 to 1953. During our long Vietnam War, the Republic of Korea maintained approximately fifty thousand troops in South Vietnam.

Unlike the profiles of US military forces, almost all of these soldiers and marines were combat troops. Their approach to combat caused some controversy, but there was no doubt that they were extremely effective. The North Vietnamese army and the Viet Cong revolutionary forces actively tried to avoid contact with the Koreans.

North Korea is engaged in worrying long-range missile testing, with evidence of steadily improving launch and delivery capabilities. US efforts to limit this dangerous behavior by working through the United Nations have been consistently thwarted by China and Russia.

The expansion of cooperation between Seoul and Washington builds directly on the successful six-day visit of South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol to Washington DC in April, marking the seventieth anniversary of the vital alliance between our two nations.

As highlighted in a previous column, President Yoon has opportunities to develop a prominent global leadership role, with vocal North Korea thrown to the left of the stage.

At a State Dinner at the White House, he sang Don McLean’s 1971 song “American Pie.”

Arthur I. Cyr is the author of “After the Cold War – American Foreign Policy, Europe and Asia” (NYU Press and Palgrave/Macmillan; Korean language edition by Oruem Publishing). He can be reached at

This article originally appeared on Sturgis Journal: Arthur Cyr: Tensions Between North and South Korea Reflect Deep Realities

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