Dave DeCamp Foreign Policy North Korea

US, South Korea to Extend Massive Aerial War Games After North’s Missile Launch

The war games provoked a massive show of force by North Korea, and Pyongyang is warning of more consequences due to the extension.
North Korea’s ballistic missile – North Korea Victory Day-2013. Stefan Krasowski, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

By Dave DeCamp / Antiwar.com

The US and South Korea are extending massive aerial war games after North Korea put on a massive show of force in response to the drills.

Washington and Seoul started their Vigilant Storm exercises on Monday, which were initially scheduled to run 24 hours a day for five days. This year’s Vigilant Storm is the largest-ever iteration of the drills, involving nearly 100 American warplanes and 140 South Korean aircraft, and about 1,600 planned sorties.

Pyongyang made it clear it would respond to the Vigilant Storm drills, and it launched 23 missiles on Wednesday, which is said to be the most North Korea has fired in a single day. North Korea also fired over 100 artillery rounds on the same day and launched six more missiles on Thursday.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced the extension of Vigilant Storm after a meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Lee Jong-sup. “I’ve consulted with Minister Lee and we’ve decided to extend Vigilant Storm, which is our long-scheduled combined training exercise, to further bolster our readiness and interoperability,” Austin said.

It’s not clear how long the war games will be extended, but North Korea is already warning of more consequences. “The irresponsible decision of the US and South Korea is shoving the present situation, caused by provocative military acts of the allied forces, to an uncontrollable phase,” said Pak Jong-chon, the secretary of the Central Committee of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party.

During their meeting, Austin told Lee that the use of nuclear weapons by North Korea would result in the “end” of the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un. “Any nuclear attack against the United States or its Allies and partners, including the use of non-strategic nuclear weapons, is unacceptable and will result in the end of the Kim regime,” Austin said, according to the Pentagon.

Tensions have been growing on the Korean Peninsula throughout the year as the US and South Korea began conducting massive war games after a long pause, and Pyongyang has fired a record number of missiles. The pause in US-South Korean war games came as the result of the diplomacy between the Trump administration and Pyongyang.

The Biden administration refuses to change its approach to the North and is still calling for the “denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula, which is a non-starter for talks with Pyongyang. The US and South Korea have strengthened military ties since South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol took office in May. Yoon vowed to take a more hardline stance toward the North than his predecessor, Moon Jae-in, who was a proponent of Korean reunification.

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Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.


  1. They shoot all that military crap into the ocean like the sea is an infinite garbage dump. A bloom of jelly fish is coming like the world has never seen because jelly fish will be the only critter capable of surviving in such polluted waters.

    Of course the corporate world will respond, not by cleaning up the ocean, but by profiteering off the jelly fish bloom. Some bright star in the intellectual heavens will put pork genes into the lowly primitive blobs to make jelly fish bacon. Oh yum.

    The ultra right wingers will change all the biological books to erase the memory of real fish like tuna. They will change the bible also. Jonah was not swallowed by a whale but by a holy jelly fish.

    OK. Maybe it is time for a world reset.

  2. more US imperialism—fakery. unlike Libya Iraq Afghanistangrenada etc DPRK has nukes; this shields them from US invasion

  3. *yawn* So predictable these faux-indignant articles.

    Nevermind that North Korea is a textbook example of a dictatorship that starves, tortures, and imprisons and isolates its citizens as a matter of policy.

    Nevermind that the exercises had been announced years ago and serve a legitimate purpose (see e.g. https://www.economist.com/asia/2022/08/18/america-and-south-korea-restart-their-big-military-drills?utm_medium=cpc.adword.pd&utm_source=google&ppccampaignID=18151738051&ppcadID=&utm_campaign=a.22brand_pmax&utm_content=conversion.direct-response.anonymous&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI8IytxOuW-wIVxQqiAx07XQgvEAAYASAAEgKckfD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds ).

    Nevermind that North Korea has a history of aggression, blackmail, and intimidation attempts. See e.g. here for some statistics: https://beyondparallel.csis.org/25-years-of-negotiations-provocations/ .

    And nevermind that it has developed nuclear warheads plus ballistic missiles and uses those to ratchet up nuclear tensions in teh region whenever it feels covered by Russia and China (see e.g. https://www.cfr.org/in-brief/north-korea-has-escalated-its-military-provocations-heres-why ).

    And nevermind that its dictators provocatively fire ballistic missiles whenever they feel they need a morale boost.

    Oh, and no mention of the fact that North Korea does plenty of military exercises of its own.

    Nope. None of the above. Certain authors wait patiently for North Korean propaganda campaigns and then proceed to ‘retweet’ them on various forums, taking care to slyly paint the US and Korean stance in the worst possible light while consistantly and studiously omitting the steady drumbeat of North Korean provocations and ratcheting up of nuclear tensions. In doing so they underline North Korean propaganda, call the merits of standing up to North Korean military intimidation into question, and thereby undermine the will of the world to stand up to such intimidation.

    So here’s a thought. If the US stance of denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula isn’t acceptable, then what about arming South Korea with nuclear missiles of its own? If North Korea feels entitled to point Nuclear missiles at the South then why not the other way round?

    Or would that cramp North Korea’s style when it next wants to shoot a missile across Korea?

    1. It’s none of America’s business what they do over there….Never was….Its Korean War venture was the first of its wars since WWII against countries that were of no threat to it.

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