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U.S., South Korea conclude largest joint military exercise

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   March 17, 2016 at 12:03 PM
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SEOUL, March 17 (UPI) -- The United States and South Korea concluded a joint military exercise on Thursday.

Key Resolve, a computer-simulated training exercise, involved for the first time the application of a new operation plan, OPLAN 5015, a South Korean Defense Ministry official told Yonhap.

Key Resolve is the largest joint training mission of its kind. The training involves realistic scenarios, including the treatment of the injured being transported from the battlefield, The Washington Post reported.

Soldiers enact scenes where their limbs are missing, as they are carried out on stretchers to a field hospital. Damaged bleeding organs were simulated using condoms filled with Kool-Aid and cocoa, according to the report.

One training exercise near the Military Demarcation Line in northern South Korea involved the test deployment of 170-mm howitzers and 240-mm multiple rocket launchers. The exercise was to prepare for an attack by North Korea, Seoul said.

The end of drills means U.S. troops who arrived on the peninsula exclusively for the training will return to their home base.

The drills are held annually in the spring, and often draw a strong reaction from North Korea's media outlets, although data analyzed by the Center for Strategic and International Studies indicate North Korea's responses to joint drills are more driven by the status of U.S.-North Korea relations in the period.

North Korea's announcements of its nuclear weapons program have accelerated in recent months, but its claims of nuclear warhead miniaturization ultimately have not been confirmed.

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