March 4 (UPI) -- The United States and South Korea are to hold joint military exercises Monday, but the training could be reduced in scale due to the coronavirus pandemic.
South Korean military sources said the drills that end March 18 are to be conducted at a level similar to drills that took place in August of last year, News 1 and Yonhap reported Thursday.
In 2020 the drills mostly involved training centered on computer-simulated war scenarios.
This month's exercises, known as the Combined Command Post Training, are being scaled down because of complications due to COVID-19. U.S. troops who would have participated have not arrived on the peninsula due to the pandemic, Korean military sources told local news services.
The pared-down drills last year raised concerns in South Korea, according to Yonhap. Social distancing guidelines in 2020 prevented large numbers of troops from participating. Nighttime training also reportedly was left out of the program.
The two countries are proceeding with the exercises at a time when Seoul could be seeking the transition of wartime operational control, or OPCON.
According to reports, the administration of President Moon Jae-in wants to move forward with Full Operational Capability tests that could eventually bring the countries one step closer to the transition of OPCON, currently under U.S. command.
A military source told Yonhap on Thursday that Seoul wanted to check Full Operational Capacity during upcoming exercises. Fewer U.S. troops during the drills this month means operational capacity verification will have to wait until the second half of 2021, the source said.
The Biden administration has signaled a willingness to renew allied commitments. South Korean sources said Thursday that U.S. security policy on the peninsula could be prioritizing a "Fight Tonight" posture, rather than seeking changes to command structure, according to reports.