Annual Freedom Shield Exercise Enhances U.S.-South Korea Alliance

The Freedom Shield exercise, a strategic cooperative training between the United States and South Korea, commenced on March 4, emphasizing the importance of strengthening collective defensive capabilities. This year, the exercise aims to enhance combined operations across various domains, such as land, air, sea, and non-kinetic assets.

To achieve its objectives, the United States Air Force (USAF) has contributed multiple fighter types to the training. F-16s, A-10s, and F-35s are among the confirmed aircraft participating in various training events throughout the 11-day exercise. This collaboration showcases the commitment of both nations to preparedness and deterrence.

With a focus on realistic scenarios reflecting diverse threats within the security environment, the Freedom Shield exercise bolsters the combined defensive posture and alliance response capabilities. During a press conference, USFK director of public affairs Army Col. Isaac Taylor highlighted the significance of the exercise in strengthening the coordination between the U.S. and South Korea.

The exercise encompasses 48 individual “Field Training Exercises,” more than double the number from the previous year, and includes the deployment of a B-1 bomber. Observers from 12 United Nations Command Member States, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, France, and Italy, will also participate, fostering international cooperation and coordination.

One notable component of the exercise is the ‘Buddy Squadron’ event near Osan Air Force Base. This event will involve 20 aircraft, featuring American F-16s and Republic of Korea Air Force’s F-15Ks. During the exercise, airmen from both nations engage in practical training, including Defensive Counter Air missions, and share the latest tactics.

To ensure situational awareness, the U.S. RC-135V Rivet Joint and South Korea’s high-altitude unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, Global Hawk (RQ-4), have been deployed to closely monitor North Korean military movements throughout the exercise.

While the Freedom Shield exercise aims to strengthen deterrence and readiness, North Korea has condemned the training and issued warnings through state-owned media. Despite these provocative statements, the U.S. and South Korea remain focused on enhancing their alliance and maintaining a strong defensive posture.

As the exercise progresses, it serves as a testament to the enduring partnership between the U.S. and South Korea, demonstrating their commitment to regional stability and security. Through joint training and cooperation, the Freedom Shield exercise plays a crucial role in fortifying the alliance and deterring potential threats in the region.

FAQs: Freedom Shield Exercise

Q: What is the Freedom Shield exercise?
A: The Freedom Shield exercise is a strategic cooperative training between the United States and South Korea aimed at strengthening collective defensive capabilities.
(Reference: defense.gov)

Q: When did the exercise commence?
A: The exercise commenced on March 4.
(Reference: defense.gov)

Q: Which domains does the exercise aim to enhance combined operations across?
A: The exercise aims to enhance combined operations across land, air, sea, and non-kinetic assets.
(Reference: defense.gov)

Q: Which fighter types has the United States Air Force contributed to the training?
A: The United States Air Force has contributed F-16s, A-10s, and F-35s to the training.
(Reference: defense.gov)

Q: How long is the exercise?
A: The exercise lasts for 11 days.
(Reference: defense.gov)

Q: Why is the exercise significant?
A: The exercise is significant as it strengthens coordination between the United States and South Korea and bolsters their combined defensive posture and alliance response capabilities.
(Reference: defense.gov)

Q: How many Field Training Exercises does the exercise encompass?
A: The exercise encompasses 48 individual Field Training Exercises, more than double the number from the previous year.
(Reference: defense.gov)

Q: Which countries’ observers are participating in the exercise?
A: Observers from 12 United Nations Command Member States, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, France, and Italy, are participating in the exercise.
(Reference: defense.gov)

Q: What is the Buddy Squadron event?
A: The Buddy Squadron event is a component of the exercise that involves 20 aircraft, featuring American F-16s and Republic of Korea Air Force’s F-15Ks. It includes practical training and sharing of tactics between airmen from both nations.
(Reference: defense.gov)

Q: Which aircraft are deployed for situational awareness during the exercise?
A: The U.S. RC-135V Rivet Joint and South Korea’s high-altitude unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, Global Hawk (RQ-4), have been deployed for situational awareness and to monitor North Korean military movements.
(Reference: defense.gov)

Q: How do North Korea and the U.S./South Korea respond to the exercise?
A: North Korea has condemned the training and issued warnings through state-owned media. However, the U.S. and South Korea remain focused on enhancing their alliance and maintaining a strong defensive posture.
(Reference: defense.gov)

Q: What is the role of the exercise in regional stability and security?
A: Through joint training and cooperation, the Freedom Shield exercise plays a crucial role in fortifying the alliance between the U.S. and South Korea and deterring potential threats in the region.
(Reference: defense.gov)