South Korea and the United States today successfully completed the first of their annual joint military drills, Key Resolve, aiming to enhance operation and combat capabilities to deter threats from North Korea.
This drill was a computerized command post exercise involving computer simulations hosted at various sites around South Korea to maintain a high level of proficiency on key tasks in different scenarios for allied readiness, and to sustain and strengthen the alliance.
Mobilizing some 10,000 South Korean troops and some 8,600 American forces, Key Resolve allowed senior leaders and trained commanders from both nations to exercise their decision-making capabilities in combined planning, military intelligence, logistics, and command and control operations, the Combined Forces Command said in a statement.
According to Seoul's defense ministry official, the exercise includes a joint plan on how to respond to North Korea's local provocations, implementing a customized deterrence plan against Pyongyang's nuclear threats and weapons of mass destruction.
The Neutral Supervisory Commission observed and monitored the allied troops to ensure that they do not break the Armistice Agreement signed at the end of the Korean War (1950-53). Besides Korea, five countries -- Australia, Canada, Denmark, France and Britain -- participated in Key Resolve.
On the other hand, Foal Eagle, a joint field training drill, will run until April 24th, mobilizing some 200,000 troops from South Korea and 3,700 from the U.S. The tactical training that kicked off on March 2 includes a set of land, sea, and air maneuvers, with the 3-ton USS Fort Worth participating for the first time this year.
Despite Pyongyang's strong criticism and threats of harsh retaliation, South Korea and the U.S. stage the exercises on a regular basis. The allies stressed that they are purely defensive in nature, aiming solely at bolstering readiness against a possible invasion by North Korea. Claiming it as a rehearsal for war, Pyongyang fired seven ground-to-air missiles into the sea off its east coast late yesterday. The north previously fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea as the drills began.
In addition to the missiles fired, there was strong opposition to the exercises from within South Korea. One Kim Ki-jong reportedly targeted U.S. Ambassador to Korea Mark Lippert to stop the ongoing bilateral military drills. Police said the leftist activist contacted a South Korean man before committing the assault, a man who was previously convicted of spying for North Korea. Investigators are looking into whether the attacker violated the National Security Law, focusing on possible ties with North Korea.