Dear Members and Friends,
Off the Korean Peninsula this week our U.S. forces, led by the USS George Washington Battle Strike Group made up of 20 ships, 100 aircraft and 8,000 sailors, made a definitive statement to our ally, South Korea, of extending our military deterrent.
This military exercise with Korean forces involved a coordinated and integrated application of both offensive and defensive forces that are required to handle a military crisis in this region of the world. This exercise ties together the advancements of military technology, the updating of older systems and new sailors and officers gaining needed experience. It is a necessary requirement that needs to take place regularly in order to secure the peace and stability of our allies that live on and around the Korean Peninsula.
The timing of this exercise comes only a few months after the sinking of the Cheonan, a South Korean ship, by a North Korean torpedo which resulted in the death of 46 South Korean sailors. The exercise is not deemed to be a provocative act towards North Korea. Instead, it is a much needed show of stability and U.S. extended protection of the people and government of South Korea in this particularly dynamic situation. The South Korean leadership resisted any provocative military response to the sinking and deaths of its sailors on the strength of the U.S. influence and diplomatic skill. This military exercise was needed for a show of respect and a continued display of a strong alliance to the South Korean public and their leadership.
One of the critical new platforms and military strategies that are being integrated and re-introduced in this exercise is the missile defense component consisting of the U.S. Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Ships in the participating battle group. This combination of offense and defense adds a much broader, stronger and safer deterrent as it forces Kim Jong-Il and his military leadership to change their strategic and tactical calculus; putting his threats into rhetoric rather than reality.
These Aegis BMD destroyers and cruisers are tasked with protecting the battle group as well as selected nearby areas from short-range ballistic missile attack.
In light of the large numbers of North Korean short-range ballistic missiles, with an approximate range of 300km, and their growing nuclear capability it is essential to show, through these type of military exercises, that South Korea and our allies will be protected throughout the world. It will also show those who are reliant on U.S. extended deterrence that we have the deployed military capability and clear intent to protect them.
With the resolve and mission of the U.S. Navy to provide extended deterrence along the vital waters of our world, we must support and push for the growth of the United States Navy’s ballistic missile defense capability.