Here's 20,000 Well-Armed Reasons Why North Korea Should Chill Out

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Photo: via Department of defence

Every year, 20-some-odd thousand troops from the Republic of Korea and the United States get all their loudest, flashiest toys together, churn up the ocean, and culminate by throwing an exclusive party that’s about 10 miles from the demilitarized zone in North Korea.Every year, this happens. Yet every year, North Korea flips out.

One year, I even got to go.

In 2008, the two main operations — Foal Eagle and Key Resolve — were put together as one. Key Resolve is the largest body of operations, consisting of jets, ships, and naval exercises.

Then the Marine companies jump off the boats for the land assault.

Eventually the Marines unload and meet up with Army personnel who are permanently stationed in South Korea.

The gear and Marines move up to the mountains, where Foal Eagle kicks off, between 10 and 15 miles from the Demilitarized Zone. This is where I was. This is the party.

The shooting starts within hours.

ROK Marines pay close attention to a U.S. marksman.

Then there are the tanks ...

... I'll never forget, all day long, every minute or so, every building would rattle as the M1 Abrams fired another round.

Beneath the sounds of war, Marines of both countries trained under harsh conditions.

The snow would come and go like gusts of thick white wind.

Regardless they pressed on. The U.S. Marines were shivering, but the ROKs seemed right at home.

Believe it or not, a half hour after the white out storm, all the snow was gone.

And it's not too tough to teach, despite the language barrier.

Because grenades only speak one language.

Other basics, like posting perimeter security, are like second nature for a country so close to war.

ROK's may be there in part to learn from the U.S., but there's no shortage of confidence on their part.

Every day, ranges light up with the sound of rounds.

... explosive breaching ...

... and hydro-explosive breaching

Mountains and trees may obscure their vision, but there's no doubt the North hears the party.

The culminating operation that year was a heliborne assault on a small urban area.

Coming in from the ground were Light armoured Reconnaissance vehicles.

Shooting and scooting ...

The Marines move in tandem, assaulting particular targets within the urban environment.

Streams of bodies follow an explosive breach ...

Then up the stairs they go ...

Clearing staircases, rooms, and roofs, the whole exercise takes a matter of minutes. Then they repeat. And repeat. Until exhaustion kicks in.

Then there's nothing left but that big boat home.

You've seen all the guns America brings just south of the border ...

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