The rhetoric surrounding this years Ulchi Focus exercise is a little more worrisome given that both sides are now firing artillery at each other over the border. It will be interesting. This is the first time I can recall the US and ROK have stood down from the exercise because of outraged bleating from North Korea.
I'm unutterably glad that I'm not there. Seven straight years of being present for every US/ROK exercise; Ulchi Focus Lens, Foal Eagle, Freedom Banner, etc was enough. It was hard not to parrot the USFK staff who were upfront and honest when they said again and again that what we were doing was futile since the staffs used to rotate offpen (off Peninsula) every year which left us with the same level of expertise after 50 years of playing the same game as rookies playing their first game. Naturally, that is not how the norks played the game.
In the old days one might wonder if naval reinforcements were being dispatched to the western Pacific. Since our national command authority has their heads in a bag I doubt we've so much as issued an alert order for movement much less dispatched a battle group.
As the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact collapsed it was an accepted article of faith by those familiar with the Kim's that they would never part with their weapons of mass destruction and would sooner use them and lose the war than surrender an inch. Carting a gas mask around Seoul seemed to us to be a stupid waste of time and effort since we figured the norks will nuke the place in their opening shot of the next war. Thank you Madeline Albright, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. You made it all possible with your addlepated ignorant 'diplomacy.'