U.S., South Korea resume military drills

SEOUL, South Korea (AFP) — The United States and South Korea began their biggest combined military drills since 2018 on Monday, Seoul said — a move likely to enrage North Korea, which has been ramping up its nuclear threats.

Washington is Seoul’s key security ally and stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea to protect it from its nuclear-armed neighbor.

The two countries have long carried out joint exercises, which they insist are purely defensive but North Korea sees them as a rehearsal for invasion.

The Ulchi Freedom Shield exercise marks the resumption of large-scale training sessions after they were scaled back due to Covid-19 and a bout of failed diplomacy with Pyongyang.

“The significance of this joint exercise is rebuilding the South Korea-US alliance and solidifying the combined defense posture by normalizing… combined exercises and field training,” the defense ministry said.

Details of the drills that run from 22 August to 1 September I have not been released, but they usually include field exercises involving aircraft, warships and tanks — with tens of thousands of troops.

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