South Korea, U.S. to continue joint military drills

By Jennie Oh  |  Feb. 20, 2018 at 1:30 AM
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SEOUL, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- The United States' top military official in South Korea has affirmed the two allied countries will continue conducting joint military exercises.

The two countries postponed their annual springtime drills to defuse tensions with North Korea during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

In a report submitted to the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, U.S. Forces Korea Commander Vincent Brooks said the United States will execute two major theater-level command post exercises and one theater-level field training exercise each year.

Voice of America reported the two major command post exercises allude to the springtime Key Resolve exercise and the Ulchi Freedom Guardian drill in August, while the field training refers to the Foal Eagle exercise, which is held in conjunction with Key Resolve.

Brooks said the joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises are essential for strengthening the alliance, deterring North Korea's aggression and ensuring the U.N. Command capability's to maintain the armistice as well as improve force readiness.

On Tuesday, South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo told the National Assembly that the allies will make an announcement regarding their postponed joint military drills after the PyeongChang Paralympic Winter Games end on March 18, Yonhap reported.

Song said Seoul and Washington maintain their joint stance that the annual military drills were delayed in the spirit of the Olympics and until the Winter Games are over, the allies will neither confirm nor deny future plans.

Regarding concerns there could be cracks in the South Korea-U.S. alliance due to the postponement of the drills, Song said there is not even "a difference of one millimeter between the allies."

Also, during the briefing, Song said the defense ministry is devising a concrete plan on holding anticipated inter-Korean military talks.

On whether the talks will cover denuclearization, Song said the two sides must discuss the simplest issues first and eventually work toward the contentious topic.

Topics: North Korea
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