JCS Chief Nominee Not Considering Scaling Back S. Korea-US Military Drill

Claudine Rigal
Août 19, 2017

Strategic assets of the US military, including an aircraft carrier and a nuclear-powered submarine, may not be deployed during the upcoming joint exercises on the Korean peninsula.

About 17,500 US servicemembers will participate, with about 3,000 coming from other countries.

Amid the dialogue atmosphere, the combined forces of South Korea and the United States were scheduled to kick off their joint annual war games, codenamed Ulchi Freedom Guardian which would last for 10 days, on Monday.

An official with the South's Ministry of National Defense said the two militaries have not considered changing the size of the drills.

The war of words between Pyongyang and Washington had fuelled tensions in the past weeks.

Though widely dismissed as far-fetched, personal views both in Seoul and Washington, such remarks have alarmed the two countries' security experts, who suspect that the stationing of 28,000 U.S. troops and its annual drill with the South Korean counterpart have been a successful deterrence against North Korea.

In a brief statement issued Friday, the North Korean state-run Korean Central News Agency declared the drills would "further drive the situation on the Korean Peninsula into a catastrophe". USA forces will join ROK military forces from major ROK units representing all services, as well as ROK government participants.

The Pentagon said the Americans will join their South Korean counterparts as well as government participants.

The exercise, which runs for 10 days, starting on August 21, involves about 17,500 USA service members in addition to troops from Australia, Canada, Columbia, Denmark, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Britain, the Pentagon said on Friday.

"UFG is a computer-simulated defensive exercise created to enhance readiness, protect the region and maintain stability on the Korean peninsula", the statement said.

Some 50,000 South Korean service members took part in last year's UFG exercise, which brought about 25,000 US troops, including roughly 2,500 personnel from the US Pacific Command and the mainland.

The United States maintains about 28,500 servicemembers in South Korea, with that number often rising during the exercises.

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