|Arthur Dominic Villasanta |||Mar 25, 2017 07:11 PM EDT|
(Photo : USFK) U.S. and South Korean Marines at Foal Eagle.
U.S. Marine Corps Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters based in Japan for the first time conducted precision bombing of ground targets in South Korea while the elite SEAL Team Six and other units belonging to the U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) practiced a "decapitation raid" to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
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Both events are part of the ongoing Foal Eagle and Key Resolve military exercises, which began early March and are scheduled to end early April. Held annually since 1997, both drills demonstrate the resolve of the South Korean-U.S. military to deter war on the Korean peninsula, and to improve their combined and joint operational posture.
The F-35Bs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121), also known as the "Green Knights," returned to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni in Japan after the Korea Marine Exercise Program (KMEP) that's part of Foal Eagle and Key Resolve.
The squadron deployed 10 of its 16 stealth fighters to Iwakuni in January. The remaining six fighters will arrive in June.
At least eight of these F-35Bs took part in a simulation-based precision bombing drill at the Pilsung Shooting Range in the eastern province of Gangwon.
United States Forces Korea (USFK) confirmed the F-35B sorties and said it reflects Washington's commitment to a robust alliance with South Korea. USFK is the joint headquarters through which U.S. combat forces will be sent to the Combined Forces Command fighting units in the event of a Second Korean War.
"The deployment of the most advanced aircraft the USMC has in their inventory to Korea is yet another example of how dedicated the United States is to supporting the ROK-U.S. Alliance," said Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, USFK commander.
"The training within the KMEP program helps ensure our readiness and is critical for our Alliance as we maintain security and stability on the Korean Peninsula."
Strong speculation persists that SEAL Team Six, the unit that killed al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden in 2011, remains in South Korea and is flexing its muscle along with other units comprising the U.S. SOF.
Other SOF units at Foal Eagle and Key Resolve are the Army Rangers, Delta Force and the Green Berets.
"A bigger number of and more diverse US special operation forces will take part in this year's Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercises to practice missions to infiltrate into the North, remove the North's war command and demolition of its key military facilities," according to a South Korean official quoted by South Korean media.
Foal Eagle is a combined Field Training Exercise (FTX) conducted annually by the Republic of Korea Armed Forces (ROKAF) and USFK under the auspices of the Combined Forces Command. Key Resolve is an annual command post exercise (CPX) held by USFK, and conducted with ROKAF.
TagsU.S. Marine Corps, Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters, Japan, SEAL Team Six, U.S. Special Operations Forces, Foal Eagle, Key Resolve, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121)
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