The US and South Korean militaries conducted a joint river crossing exercise on Wednesday, the latest drill in a large-scale operation designed to counter the escalation of North Korea’s military exercises.

Major tanks and other armored vehicles crossed the temporary bridge over the Namhan River south of the capital Seoul. US and South Korean engineering teams built the bridges in a matter of hours using pontoons unhooked from trucks, Reuters reported.

The boats pushed the pontoons into position to assemble the crossings, which would have allowed the movement of troops and vehicles in the event of the destruction of a key bridge. Temporary crossings could also allow US and South Korean forces to avoid making full use of major infrastructure landmarks.

Although the border between North Korea and South Korea is made up of multiple rivers, military officials told Reuters Wednesday’s operation was purely defensive.

SOUTH KOREA HAS THE ABILITY TO INTERCEPT NORTH MISSILES

A South Korean soldier leads the tanks taking part in a joint river crossing exercise between South Korean and US troops, in Yeoju, South Korea, October 19, 2022.
(REUTERS / Kim Hong-Ji)

Part of the floating bridge is pictured as South Korean and US troops take part in the joint river crossing exercise in Yeoju, South Korea on October 19, 2022.

Part of the floating bridge is pictured as South Korean and US troops take part in the joint river crossing exercise in Yeoju, South Korea on October 19, 2022.
(REUTERS / Kim Hong-Ji)

The exercise involved 1,000 South Korean and US soldiers, as well as 50 vehicles, including tanks, KF-16 fighters, and Apache and Cobra attack helicopters. Helicopters could be seen passing over the completed bridge and firing rockets. According to Reuters, the bridges themselves consisted of more than 140 engineering equipment.

The exercise comes just days after the Kim Jong Un regime in the North fired a missile and artillery shells into the sea, marking the North’s 15th ballistic missile launch since late September.

North Korea has become increasingly aggressive since the United States and South Korea began joint military exercises in September. The operation coincided with a visit to Seoul by Vice President Kamala Harris.

A South Korean armored vehicle takes part in a joint river crossing exercise between South Korean and US troops, in Yeoju, South Korea, October 19, 2022.

A South Korean armored vehicle takes part in a joint river crossing exercise between South Korean and US troops, in Yeoju, South Korea, October 19, 2022.
(REUTERS / Kim Hong-Ji)

North Korea also flew 12 warplanes near the South Korean border in early October. The sortie included eight fighters and four bombers. South Korea responded with a flight of 30 warplanes, but the two groups did not commit.

Allied exercises were not without incident, however, as a South Korean ballistic missile malfunctioned and exploded to the ground in early October.

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US military officials made it clear that the South Korean missile warhead did not explode, but the propellant caused a large explosion and flames. The incident made many local residents fear that an attack was underway from the north and for hours the military did not clarify the cause of the explosion and the flames.

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