It isn’t just American capabilities in South Korea that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has to consider – capabilities based outside South Korea also figure in the strategic calculus, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said March 18.
In a meeting with reporters, Little said B-52 Stratofortresses based at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, flew a mission over South Korea on March 8 as part of Exercise Foal Eagle.
“It’s not any secret that we are in the midst of sending a very strong signal that we have a firm commitment to the alliance with our South Korean allies,” he added.
Little called this “a stepped-up training effort” to demonstrate American resolve to protect South Korea and to preserve peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
The flight was not a one-of-a-kind exercise. The B-52 is part of U.S. Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence. The Foal Eagle mission highlights the extended deterrence and conventional capabilities of the B-52 Stratofortress, Little said, stressing that the B-52 is just one of the many capabilities the United States can call on to defend South Korea.
The bomber missions are routine and a literal symbol of American resolve in the Pacific, the press secretary said. “Despite challenges with fiscal constraints, training opportunities remain important to ensure U.S. and (South Korean) forces are battle-ready and trained to employ airpower to deter aggression, defend South Korea and defeat any attack against the alliance,” he added.
The bomber program is based in Guam, where Air Force strategic bombing units routinely deploy. The aircraft can perform a variety of missions, including carrying precision-guided conventional or nuclear ordnance.
More than 28,000 American service members are based in South Korea.