South Korea, U.S. joint military exercises: just the routine

The annual military exercise involving U.S. and South Korean forces will be of a particular interest, as Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump have accepted to hold talks, a “first” since the cease-fire of 1953.

South Korea US joint military exercises just the routine
Field Training Exercise "Key Resolve", like the CPX "Foal Eagle", will be just annual routine, at an even lower scale than usual (Picture source: Twitter)

From April 1, combined forces of South Korea and the United States will launch their annual joint military exercise codenamed Key Resolve (the command post exercise, CPX) and Foal Eagle (field training exercise, FTX) following the intervening units. The Foal Eagle would reportedly last for about a month from April 1, while the Key Resolve would be conducted for two weeks from April 23.

How will North Korea’s dictator regard these two exercises in the framework of the summit foreseen for next month to pave the way to the Kim-Trump summit, which remains to be confirmed? Do they risk irking North Korea?

The exercises on the Korean Peninsula would be of the same importance as in previous years, the U.S. Department of Defense said, stressing they were annual routine and not in response to any recent North Korean provocations, mostly because Kim Jong Un has committed to not perform any nuclear, nor missile test for the time being. No details were given on specifics such as whether U.S. strategic assets would be deployed. United Nations Command has informed North Korea, which has yet to respond to the announcement.

Both annual exercises had been delayed from their usual start in March, as South Korean President Moon Jae-in sought to ensure a peaceful Olympics and Paralympics in his country. They come as Moon prepares for a planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next month, while U.S. President Donald Trump prepares for a potential meeting with Kim the following month.

The Foal Eagle field training exercises will involve about 11,500 U.S. troops and 290,000 South Korean soldiers, while around 12,200 U.S. troops and 10,000 South Korean personnel will conduct the Key Resolve 18 exercises focused on computer simulations. Foal Eagle will last for four weeks (one month less than in 2017) and Key Resolve for two weeks from mid-April.


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