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Monday, December 05, 2022

US and South Korea are planning major military maneuvers

Fears of North Korea’s reaction
US and South Korea are planning major military maneuvers

In recent years, the United States and South Korea have repeatedly canceled joint military exercises to keep peace with North Korea. But after several tests with nuclear-capable missiles from the isolated country, Seoul is looking to improve its defense capabilities.

South Korean and US forces are set to hold the largest joint summer exercise in five years, amid rising tensions on the Korean peninsula. The Defense Ministry said in Seoul that the annual exercise will begin next Monday and will continue till September 1. The authority did not provide any information about the number of soldiers participating.

The US has deployed 28,500 troops to South Korea to avoid the threat of North Korea. Under the name “Ulchi Freedom Shield”, the training is to be combined with computer simulations, field exercises and a larger civil defense exercise. A Defense Department spokesman said it would be the largest exercise since 2017. On Tuesday, the two countries launched a multi-day crisis management training course.

There was fear of a sharp reaction from North Korea to the upcoming maneuver in Seoul. The leadership of the largely isolated country regularly accuses the US of maneuvering South Korea to prepare for an attack. Washington and Seoul deny this, insisting that the exercises are designed to improve defense capabilities. Tensions in the region have risen again this year following a series of tests by North Korea of ​​nuclear-capable missiles. In May, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and his American counterpart Joe Biden agreed to expand joint maneuvers.

In recent years, both countries have reduced the scope of several exercises or canceled them altogether for diplomatic reasons. When the US canceled summer exercises in South Korea in 2018, it wanted to create more opportunities for talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. However, since the failed summit between the United States and North Korea in Vietnam in February 2019, there has been no progress.

(This article was first published on Tuesday, August 16, 2022.)

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