S.Korea, US, Japan to hold missile defence drill

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Featuring the mobilisation of eight warships and two aircraft, the exercise is aimed at enhancing cooperation among the participating countries…reports Asian Lite News

South Korea, the US and Japan will kick off a combined ballistic missile defence exercise in waters off Hawaii this week, amid their stepped-up security coordination against North Korea’s “evolving military threats”, a media outlet reported, citing sources.

The biennial Pacific Dragon exercise is scheduled to take place from Monday through August 14, according to the sources. In addition to the three countries, Australia and Canada will join the exercise in 2022’s edition, Yonhap news agency reported.

Featuring the mobilisation of eight warships and two aircraft, the exercise is aimed at enhancing cooperation among the participating countries in detecting, tracking and reporting ballistic missile targets.

The exercise has been arranged as the defence chiefs of South Korea, the US and Japan agreed to reinforce their security coordination during their trilateral gathering on the margins of the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 11.

At the talks, the three agreed to conduct the South Korea-US-Japan missile warning, and ballistic missile search and tracking exercises. Since 2018, the trainings had proceeded in a low-key manner amid efforts to facilitate diplomacy with North Korea.

The three nations have recently been seen closing ranks amid concerns that the North could further “ratchet up tensions by conducting what would be its seventh nuclear test or other provocative acts”.

Last week, the defence chiefs of South Korea and the US have agreed to reinforce both policy and military measures to reinforce readiness against evolving North Korean nuclear and missile threats.

During their talks in Washington, Defence Minister Lee Jong-sup and his US counterpart, Lloyd Austin, decided to restart the allies’ high-level Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group (EDSCG) meeting at an early date and strengthen the Table Top Exercise (TTX), Yonhap News Agency quoted the official as saying.

Seoul and Washington have been seeking to resume the EDSCG, a gathering of the allies’ vice-ministerial defence and diplomatic officials, which was suspended in 2018 amid joint efforts to promote diplomacy with Pyongyang.

The EDSCG is a key policy dialogue that Seoul has been counting on to enhance the credibility of America’s extended deterrence — its stated commitment to mobilizing a full range of its military capabilities, including its nuclear options, to defend its Asian ally.

Expected to resume in September, the gathering itself is predicted to send a message of deterrence to the North, observers pointed out.

Along with the policy coordination, the two countries are also seeking to step up their military training.

TTX is an exercise aimed at practicing possible allied responses to hypothetical nuclear scenarios, like the North’s nuclear blackmail, its impending nuclear use and actual use of nuclear arms.

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