South Korea, US to hold annual joint war games in March
South Korea and the United States have announced plans to stage joint military drills on March 2, despite objections from North Korea.
South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-Seok made the announcement on Tuesday, adding that the Key Resolve drill will last until March 13, and the Foal Eagle drill will continue up to April 24.
Previously, the annual joint war games were held in February every year. Key Resolve is a week-long largely computer-simulated exercise that focuses on practicing command and control procedures, and Foal Eagle is an eight-week drill involving air, ground and naval field exercises, with around 200,000 Korean and 3,700 US troops.
North Korea has denounced the maneuvers as a provocative “rehearsal for invasion,” calling for them to be called off to avoid military tensions between South and North Korea and improve bilateral relations.
In an address to the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party on Monday, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un called on the country’s army to increase its combat readiness.
Earlier this month, the Workers’ Party also stressed the need to develop accurate “powerful, cutting edge military hardware” that would be essential to “cope with modern warfare.”
South Korea and the United States say that the military exercises are “defensive” in nature.
North Korea says Pyongyang will take every measure to demonstrate its might as long as threats from the US persist.
There are close to 30,000 US troops permanently stationed in South Korea.