Words, war games mark Korean truce anniversary
ABOARD THE USS CURTIS WILBUR — On the 57th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War, US and South Korean ships intensified high-profile military exercises yesterday that underscore rising tensions in a region yet to find lasting peace.
The massive maneuvers, called “Invincible Spirit,’’ are being conducted by an armada of South Korean and US ships — including the USS George Washington supercarrier — in international waters off the South Korean coast.
The normally quiet patch of the East Sea has been a buzz of military activity — with helicopters dropping sonar buoys into the waters, squadrons of carrier-based F-18 fighters embarking on bombing runs, and destroyers blasting their guns at unmanned aerial drones.
The exercises were taking place four months after a South Korean warship was sunk, allegedly by a torpedo from a North Korean submarine, in the worst attack on the South’s military since the Korean War ended in a shaky truce on July 27, 1953.
North Korea has strongly denied attacking the ship, in which 46 sailors died. It has threatened to retaliate over the four-day maneuvers that end today, but senior officers aboard the US ships said no North Korean military activity has been observed.
The Koreas technically remain at war because the fighting ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. The Koreas and the United States marked the anniversary of the signing of the armistice.
“Since our nation’s founding, the United States has relied on our armed forces to ensure our safety and security at home, and to protect lives and liberties around the globe,’’ President Obama said in a statement. “I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities that honor our distinguished Korean War veterans.’’
Soldiers in Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, marked the anniversary by laying bouquets at a memorial. Residents held rallies and danced, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.