A joint military exercise between the U.S. and South Korea has freaked out North Korean leadership.
The annual drill, named Foal Eagle, runs from Feb. 24 to April 18 and features Marines from both countries.
North Korea views the drill as a possible threat and has responded by ratcheting up its own military rhetoric.
Further, The Hermit Kingdom has announced military drills of its own, and launched hundreds of missiles toward a disputed maritime border with South Korea. The country has also promised a new kind of nuclear test in response.
The drill features the landing of several amphibious assault vehicles.
During the landing process, smoke screens are used liberally in an attempt to lower an enemy’s visibility.
The amphibious assault vehicles are manned by the South Korean Marine Corps.
Although the landing operations are carried out jointly by South Korean and U.S. Marines.
U.S. and South Korean marines participate in a U.S.-South Korea joint landing operation drill in Pohang March 31, 2014.
These military exercises are held annually, and frequently provoke anger from the North Korean regime.
North Korea and South Korea technically still remain at war …
So any military procedure carried out by either of the Koreas is viewed with extreme suspicion by the rival side.
North Korea routinely claims these drills are precursors for an invasion …
Although South Korea and the U.S. insist that they are defensive in nature only.
A U.S. (L) marine and South Korean marines participate in a U.S.-South Korea joint landing operation drill in Pohang March 31, 2014.
The U.S. routinely dedicates an extremely large contingent of soldiers and Marines to the drills.
This year, 12,700 U.S. troops are participating alongside many more South Korean soldiers.
North Korea, in an attempt to block the drills from taking place, threatened to pull out from engaging in family reunions with South Korea, but later relented.
Still, North Korea has engaged in provocative measures of its own recently, such as issuing a no-sail warning for disputed territories off its west coast and carrying out live fire drills.
A major benefit of having Marines participate in the exercises is showcasing the full spectrum of amphibious operations.
And they also help showcase U.S. sea-based power in the Pacific.
The heightened tensions on the peninsula make defensive drills all the more important for South Korea.
Here’s a GoPro video showing the coastal assault firsthand.