United States and South Korea begin massive air exercises

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While the exercise comes on the heels of North Korea's missile test, the timing of the wargames is purely coincidence. The "realistic air combat exercise" also includes US Marine Corps and US Navy personnel, with a total of 230 aircraft at eight locations, according to Pacific Air Forces.

A South Korean defense ministry official was unable to immediately verify the Yonhap report about the U.S. B-1B Lancer bombers taking part in the drills on Wednesday. Around 12,000 US service members, including from the Marines and Navy, will join South Korean troops.

North Korea has vehemently criticised the drills since the weekend, saying the exercise precipitates USA and South Korean "self-destruction".

U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jets take part in a joint aerial drill exercise called "Vigilant Ace" between U.S. and South Korea, at the Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, December 6, 2017.

"The threat here on the peninsula is very real, and countering that threat needs to be in the forefront of our minds", Betts said. "We will ensure we have no regrets if we find ourselves executing contingency operations".

The U.S. Air Force has said the size of this year's drill is "comparable" to previous years.

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A report by the South Korean Commission Chief of Staff says aviation has demonstrated "ability to resolve severly the North Korean missile and nuclear provocations". Dave Benham, told the military news outlet.

During the Korean War that began in 1950 and is still technically ongoing, China came to the aid of the communist Northern Korean factions against the U.S. and their Southern allies, repaying the fledgling North's contribution to their own civil war, which the Chinese Communist Party had only won the previous year with Korean communist help.

It also labelled Trump, who has threatened to destroy North Korea if the United States is threatened, "insane". "Its intentions are to use that weapon for nuclear blackmail, and then, to, quote, you know, "reunify" the peninsula under the red banner".

"It's insane to send thousands of children to South Korea, given the provocation of North Korea", Senator Lindsey Graham said on CBS's Face the Nation. That led to events such as the Able Archer incident in 1983 where the Kremlin mistook a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation exercise as preparations to launch a nuclear first strike against the Soviet Union-the closest Washington and Moscow ever came to World War III.

Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for the National Interest.

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