With North Korea conducting nuclear weapons tests and making pronouncements about invalidating the Korean armistice, the U.S. Air Force gave North Korea something to think about during the opening days of Operation Foal Eagle. Pentagon Press Secretary George Little announced today that Air Force B-52 Stratofortresses from Anderson Air Force Base, Guam flew a training mission over South Korea on March 8, 2013. “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,” said Little.
Little went on to characterize the B-52 flight as “a stepped-up training effort,” that was designed to demonstrate just how determined America is to protect South Korea and maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula. “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,” noted Little.
The B-52s that participated in Foal Eagle are part of U.S. Pacific Command’s continuous bomber presence that see B-52s routinely deployed to Guam. The B-52 has the demonstrated ability to perform a variety of missions and can carry a formidable array of precision-guided conventional or nuclear ordnance. By conducting the training flight from Guam, the B-52s showcased their extensive deterrence and conventional capabilities.
Operation Foal Eagle is a series of 20 inter-related joint training exercises that are being conducted by Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea from March 1-April 30. Foal Eagle exercises utilize components spanning ground, air, naval, expeditionary, and special operations. The B-52 Stratofortress is just one arrow in the quiver of capabilities that the U.S. can quickly bring to bear on the Korean Peninsula. The Air Force has also maintained a Theater Support Package (TSP) of F-16 Fighting Falcons from Hill Air Force Base, Utah at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, since October.