SOUTH CHINA SEA - The U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet and the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy are participating in the annual combined joint command post exercise Key Resolve from March 11 to 21.
Key Resolve 2013 is an exercise led by the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff with around 10,000 service members from the ROK military working with approximately 3,500 service members from the U.S. military and 2,500 augmented from overseas.
The U.S. 7th Fleet and the embarked ROK Navy are supporting the exercise while operating as the Combined Naval Component Command aboard the flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) in the South China Sea.
"No matter where the 7th Fleet flaship is in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility, we are always fully capable of meeting our missions and tasking," said Vice Adm. Scott H. Swift, commander U.S. 7th Fleet. "Here we are operating in the South China Sea, leading two exercises in the waters surrounding Korea. Our time spent working closely with the Korean Navy to train on how to improve our combined naval capability is an essential part of security and stability in the region. We are demonstrating with our Korean allies our ability to ensure that security and stability together."
The purpose of this exercise is to improve the performance capabilities of the ROK-US combined defense system, guarantee the deployment of US augmented forces in the Korean Peninsula, and maintain the ROK war fighting capability in order to defend the Korean Peninsula. The two navies are working closely together to provide critical maritime defenses.
"The purpose of this exercise lies in improving interoperability, which will significantly contribute to stabilizing the Korean peninsula," said Republic of Korea Navy Rear Adm. Dong Woo Park. "With the recent ballistic missile launch and nuclear tests by North Korea, we value these exercises with our allies preparing us for any scenario."
This exercise emphasizes the combined commitment towards the long-term and continuous ROK-US alliance and friendship, the peace and defense of the Republic of Korea, and maintaining stability. It is a command post exercise executed under various estimated threats designed to guarantee the defense of the Korean Peninsula and improve the capabilities to respond to any type of situation.
"Maintaining our edge in a continuously changing operational environment requires close coordination with the ROK Navy. Key Resolve provides us that opportunity," said Cdr. Neil Smith, U.S. 7th Fleet Key Resolve 2013 exercise coordinator. "The amount of knowledge and valued training that we gain from each other is remarkable, and we look forward to many future exercises with the Korean Navy."
Key Resolve exercises have been executed ever since the establishment of the ROK-US Combined Forces Command. The exercise was renamed Key Resolve in 2008, and this is the 6th year under that name.