S. Korea, U.S. end key military drills in signal to North

Mar 04, 2019, 08:05 am

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Marines of the U.S. and South Korea take positions during a joint military combined exercise./ Source: Ministry of National Defense

AsiaToday reporter Jo Jae-hyung 

South Korea and the United States decided to end the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle series of exercises and made clear to back diplomacy for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, a move that comes just days after a summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in Vietnam ended without an agreement.

The annual Key Resolve will be renamed “Dong Maeng”, which means alliance in English. It starts Monday through March 12. The Foal Eagle will be removed and will be conducted annually in smaller scale.

The announcement by the American and South Korean defense authorities following the breakdown in negotiations at the second North Korea-U.S. summit reflects their strong will to maintain dialogue with Pyongyang. 

In fact, South Korean president Moon Jae-in’s role as a mediator and facilitator in talks between North Korea and the U.S. has become important once again. People are paying attention to whether North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s Seoul visit would make a breakthrough in the North Korea-U.S. nuclear negotiations, apart from a new summit between South Korea and the United States. 

President Moon Jae-in will convene a National Security Council (NSC) meeting on Monday to review the results of the Hanoi summit and discuss future steps with the country’s foreign, unification and defense ministers in attendance. 

South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan had a 45-minute telephone conversation on Saturday night, and discussed measures to maintain combat readiness as well as the results of the Hanoi summit. 

“Both ministers have reviewed and approved the alliance decision on the joint exercise and training recommended by the Chairman of ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and the Commander of ROK-US Combined Forces Command (CFC),” Seoul’s defense ministry said on Sunday. “Following close coordination, both side decided to conclude the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle series of exercises.”

◇ In phone talks, both defense ministers call for diplomatic efforts to achieve complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula

Key Resolve is a computer-simulated command post exercise (CPX) while Foal Eagle is a field training exercise (FTX). Both are key joint defense drills conducted every spring. 

The decision to end key annual large-scale military exercises seems to be a symbolic move toward strong support for diplomatic efforts to denuclearize North Korea.

Both ministers made clear that the alliance decision to adapt their training program “reflected their desire to reduce tension and support their diplomatic efforts to achieve complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a final, fully verified manner.”

The drills’ cancellation is expected to dramatically reduce the number of US military strategic assets, such as B-1B bombers, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, ballistic missile submarines capable of launching nuclear warheads, and F-22 fighters. 

The JCS and the CFC renamed the Key Resolve to “Dong Maeng.”

#South Korea #U.S. #military drill #Key Resolve #Foul Eagle 
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