US and South Korea tone down military drills

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivers a speech during a ceremony celebrating the 100th anniversary of the March First Independence Movement against Japanese colonial rule, in central Seoul, South Korea, March 1, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

SEOUL (Xinhua) – The combined forces of South Korea and the United States will replace their massive springtime military drills with the new “Dong Maeng” exercise slated to continue from March 4-12, the Combined Forces Command (CFC) said yesterday.

“Exercise Dong Maeng is a combined command post exercise that highlights the longstanding and enduring partnership and friendship between the two nations and their commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and regional stability,” the CFC said in a statement.

“Dong Maeng,” which means alliance in English, has been modified from the previously-held Key Resolve and Foal Eagle spring exercises and would focus on strategic, operational and tactical aspects of general military operations on the Korean Peninsula, according to the statement.

“Exercise Dong Maeng provides us the opportunity to train and rehearse with our Republic of Korea, United States and United Nations Sending State Partners,” said Park Han Ki, the South Korean chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), and the CFC Commander Robert B. Abe Abrams.

“It is important for professional armies to train and maintain to a standard of readiness. These exercises are crucial in sustaining and strengthening the alliance,” said Mr Park and Mr Abrams.

The announcement came after US Acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan and his South Korean counterpart Jeong Kyeong Doo decided to adapt the massive springtime war games, codenamed Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, “to reduce tensions and support our diplomatic efforts to achieve complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula in a final, fully verified manner.”

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has denounced the springtime war games as a dress rehearsal for northward invasion. US President Donald Trump also said the drills were “very expensive” and “provocative.”

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