The U.S. is deploying strategic assets to the Korean peninsula with greater secrecy to “maximize fear in the North,” military officials revealed Sunday.
The U.S. has, in recent weeks, been regularly sending bombers and fighters, aircraft carriers and submarines, and troops to the peninsula for training exercises with South Korean forces, yet the announcements concerning their deployments have been delayed, with some coming after the units had already left Korea.
“Surprise dispatch of strategic weapons is effective in maximizing fear in the North as it sends a message that such weapons can be mobilized any time in case of a contingency,” a military official told The Korea Times.
Earlier in March, two B-1B Lancers were sent to South Korea from Anderson Air Force Base in Guam. The media received no prior notification, and even afterwards, the United States Forces Korea refused to offer confirmation. The deployment was reported by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, which said that the bombers participated in drills in preparation for a possible preemptive strike on North Korea.
The nuclear-powered submarine the USS Columbus arrived in the waters off the coast of South Korea a few days after the bombers, yet the arrival announcement was belated.
Furthermore, multiple U.S. Marine Corps F-35 fighter jets participated in a bombing drill early last week, but the deployment of the fifth-gen fighters was not reported until Saturday, at which point the jets had already returned to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan.
The new U.S. administration is still formulating its North Korea policy; however, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said during his recent trip to Asia that military action is “on the table.”
While the U.S. may ultimately choose to adopt a less risky policy — one focused more on sanctions and diplomatic pressure — the secret deployment of military assets to and around the Korean peninsula is certain to agitate the North Koreans. The move follows President Donald Trump’s past criticisms of U.S. statements telegraphing U.S. strategic plans to foreign rivals and adversaries.
The ongoing Foal Eagle drills in South Korea have provoked the North, leading them to test-fire multiple ballistic missiles and make numerous threats against the U.S. and its allies.
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