South Korea increases monitoring of North after launches
July 7, 2006
SEOUL — South Korean military forces stepped up their monitoring efforts Wednesday while consulting with U.S. commanders in response to North Korea’s missile launches, South Korean Ministry of Defense officials said.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a 6:30 a.m. order that required situation rooms to operate around the clock, increased North Korean surveillance and added operations for troops on the Demilitarized Zone.
However, South Korea did not raise its defense condition readiness level — or Defcon — beyond its normal operations status because no provocative measures were taken following the tests, South Korean officials said.
Following the launches, Gen. B.B. Bell, commander, U.S. Forces Korea and Combined Forces Command, met with South Korean military commanders to discuss countermeasures, defense officials said Wednesday.
“Currently there are no talks aiming at planning any sort of joint response in terms of exercises, maneuvers, etc … between MND and USFK,” the ministry spokesman said. “But in real time, both sides are sharing information over this issue.”
Posted signs indicated that force protection levels at USFK bases remained at pre-launch levels Wednesday. A USFK spokesman referred all comment to the Defense Department.
During the tests, U.S. missile defenses — ground-based Midcourse Defense System interceptors — were operational at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., according to the U.S. Northern Command. Officials there said they determined quickly that the North Korean missiles, which fell into the Sea of Japan, were not threats to the United States.
No plans were made Wednesday regarding any noncombat personnel evacuations, a State Department official at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul said.