U.S. and South Korean forces later this month will hold the largest joint military drills in the Korean peninsula in five years, as tensions remain high with neighboring North Korea.
The 11-day exercises will start March 13 and will include simulations as well as live demonstrations in the sea, air and on land, U.S. Forces Korea and the Republic of Korea announced on Friday.
The drills are likely to anger North Korea, which has historically seen similar exercises as provocative and a threat to its nation.
North Korea has often responded by test-firing ballistic missiles in the region, setting off alarms in both South Korea and Japan.
The U.S. and South Korea said a military exercise called “Freedom Shield,” a computer-simulated command exercise, will include representatives from the United Nations Command, along with civilian personnel and representatives of the United Nations, according to a press release.
Troops will also engage in another joint drill called Warrior Shield FTX, which will involve air, land, sea, space, cyber and special operations exercises.
The last major drill of comparable size that the U.S. and South Korea held in the Korean peninsula was Foal Eagle in 2018.
Negotiations between former President Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un, and later the COVID-19 pandemic, largely suspended military exercises, but the U.S. and South Korea began resuming operations last year.
Friday’s announcement comes about a week after North Korea test-fired cruise missiles that traveled more than 1,000 miles and traced a figure-eight pattern before they landed in the Sea of Japan.
The missile test was in response to joint U.S.-South Korea naval drills a day earlier.
North Korea test-fired an unprecedented number of missiles last year, and Kim ordered an “exponential increase” of the nation’s nuclear arsenal at the beginning of this year.
Source : The Hill