The game is on. The U.S. Navy and South Korean Navy task forces are moving into position, the South Korean Military is on its highest peacetime alert and the North Korean military is moving fresh batteries of Surface to Air and Ground to Sea missiles into place. While diplomats from the United States, China and Japan seek to avert a war the North Koreans continue to stoke the fire with fresh artillery fire near Yeonpyeong Island which it brutally attacked earlier in the week. In the South popular protests are rising against any soft treatment of the North and the commanding General of the South Korean Marine Corps Maj. Gen. You Nak-jun attended the funeral for the two Korean Marines killed in the attack said “Our marine corps … will carry out a hundred- or thousand-fold,” retaliation against North Korea for launching Tuesday’s attack, You said, without elaborating as to what he meant by the comment. The Defense Minister Kim Tae-young resigned after the attack on Yeonpyeong Island, and veterans of the South Korean military protested Saturday in Seoul, stating they were angry that the South Korean government had not done enough to respond to the North’s shelling.
North Korean rhetoric continues to rise in its belligerence and a North Korean State Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, the state agency in charge of relations with the South said in a statement carried by the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA): ”Gone are the days when verbal warnings are served only, escalated confrontation would lead to a war,” and that the North Korean military was “getting fully ready to give a shower of dreadful fire and blow up the bulwark of the enemies if they dare to encroach again upon the North’s territory.” The KCNA also said “If the U.S. brings its carrier to the West Sea of Korea at last, no one can predict the ensuing consequences.”
The defense drills begun today by United States and South Korean forces in the Yellow Sea involve the carrier USS George Washington as well as the Aegis Cruisers USS Cowpens and USS Shiloh and the Guided Missile Destroyer USS Stethem. South Korea has deployed one of its Aegis destroyers and two destroyers as well as frigates and anti-submarine aircraft.
North Korean forces have brought in SA-2 SAM batteries which an anonymous South Korea government source says “appear to be targeting our fighter jets that fly near the Northern Limit Line.” The source also reported that the South Korean “military is preparing for the possibility of further provocations as the North Korean military has deployed firepower near the NLL and is preparing to fire.”
Additionally the North is mounting C-201 Silkworm Ground to Sea anti-ship missiles on launchers along the coast in the disputed area which also hosts bases for submarines like the one that is believed to have sunk the South Korean Corvette Cheonan in March as well as fast attack craft mounting Styx anti-ship missiles. If they were to attack the task force the North would likely attempt a saturation attack using ground and sea based SSMs against the Allied ships, however the task force includes at least 4 Aegis equipped guided missile cruisers and destroyers is well equipped to meet that threat.
The situation is tense and no one really knows exactly how it will develop is yet unseen but it will not take much to provoke a conflict that could engulf the region.