U.S., South Korea to engage in pontoon bridge building exercise

The drill would simulate the destruction of South Korean bridges by enemy shells.
By Elizabeth Shim  |  March 15, 2016 at 10:34 PM
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SEOUL, March 15 (UPI) -- The United States and South Korea are expected to continue training that simulates a response to a potential North Korea attack – with maneuvers that include a river-crossing operation.

The exercises include an obstacles course set on a river, and involve South Korea's 7th Engineer Support Battalion, its Combat Aviation Brigade and the U.S. Second Army Corps of Engineers at a training base in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province, Yonhap reported.

The training will also focus on setting up a temporary pontoon bridge, and investigating how a U.S. bridge could replace a South Korean bridge in the case of an emergency.

The drill would simulate the destruction of South Korean bridges by enemy shells, in which case five U.S. bridges are to be delivered on site, as part of the exercises, to replace three destroyed bridges.

A total of 130 U.S., South Korea troops and members of the Army Corps of Engineers are expected to participate, alongside armored vehicles and anti-aircraft guided weapons systems.

A South Korean military official said this is the first time the United States and South Korea are conducting a joint exercise involving bridges and the first time they are verifying the compatibility of bridge-related equipment.

On March 9 the United States and South Korea had signed an operational memorandum of understanding regarding the improvement of operations.

Army Col. William Taylor, commander of the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, said the memorandum has enabled the execution of new kinds of training.

North Korea continues to announce what it has touted as "progress" in its nuclear weapons program, and most recently stated it has the capability to miniaturize nuclear weapons.

According to a U.S. analyst, North Korea has "strong incentives to launch preemptive strikes if it believes the survival of the regime is in jeopardy."

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