Naval Warfare

United States, Japan, and South Korea Launch ‘Freedom Edge’ Exercise Series to Bolster Trilateral Security

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United States, Japan, and South Korea Launch ‘Freedom Edge’ Exercise Series to Bolster Trilateral Security

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United States, Japan, and South Korea Launch 'Freedom Edge' Exercise Series to Bolster Trilateral Security
United States, Japan, and South Korea Launch 'Freedom Edge' Exercise Series to Bolster Trilateral Security

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, Japan Minister of Defense Kihara Minoru, and Republic of Korea (ROK) Minister of National Defense Shin Won-sik announced the commencement of a new multi-domain exercise series named FREEDOM EDGE. This initiative was unveiled during a Trilateral Ministerial Meeting in Singapore on June 2, 2024. The new exercise series is a direct outcome of the discussions held at the historic Camp David Summit on August 18, 2023. The leaders reiterated their commitment to trilateral security cooperation to address shared security challenges, particularly the threats posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

The FREEDOM EDGE exercise series represents a significant step in strengthening the military coordination among the three nations. The Secretary and Ministers reaffirmed their dedication to maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and throughout the Indo-Pacific region. The leaders underscored the importance of deterring North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats and achieving its complete denuclearization as per United Nations Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs). They condemned North Korea’s recent diversification of nuclear delivery systems and ballistic missile tests, emphasizing the importance of a robust international response.

Ships assigned to the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Republic of Korea Navy sail in formation during a trilateral exercise, April 11, 2024.
Ships assigned to the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Republic of Korea Navy sail in formation during a trilateral exercise, April 11, 2024. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tommy Gooley)

A crucial development since the August 2023 Camp David Summit has been the activation of a real-time missile warning data-sharing mechanism among the U.S., Japan, and South Korea. This mechanism is set to be further optimized by the end of the year, enhancing the trilateral ability to detect and counter provocations effectively. Additionally, the leaders agreed to conduct a trilateral tabletop exercise (TTX) aimed at refining their joint response to various threats on the Korean Peninsula and in the Indo-Pacific region. The meeting also addressed broader regional security concerns, including China’s aggressive maritime activities in the South China Sea and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the rules-based international order and the principles of territorial integrity and sovereignty. They voiced strong opposition to any unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the Indo-Pacific waters and emphasized the importance of adhering to international laws, such as those reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait was also highlighted as a crucial element for regional security. As FREEDOM EDGE kicks off this summer, it marks a pivotal moment in U.S.-Japan-ROK relations, underscoring a shared commitment to safeguarding peace and stability in the region and beyond. The continued strengthening of these ties reflects a united front against common threats and a collective effort to uphold international norms and security.

United States, Japan, and South Korea Launch 'Freedom Edge' Exercise Series to Bolster Trilateral Security
Aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 fly in formation during a trilateral exercise with ships assigned to the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Republic of Korea Navy, April 11, 2024. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tommy Gooley)

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