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Seoul, Washington to kick off combined drill

Aug 05,2019
South Korea and the United States are set to kick off a two-week combined exercise today amid rising regional tensions, the South’s military announced Sunday.

The allies will start with a command post exercise, which refers to computer-simulated war games involving the commander, staff and communications within and between different headquarters.

Operations commands participating from South Korea’s side are those representing the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army, Navy and Air Force. Joining from the U.S. side are American troops in the Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and U.S. Forces Korea Command, local military officials said.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense said all drills will include “some notions of attack,” hinting they won’t entirely be of a defensive nature.

The latest South-U.S. combined exercise, which name has not been officially announced yet, is expected to test South Korea’s initial operational capability by having at least some parts of the exercise carried out under the envisioned platform of the future combined forces, in which a Korean general acts as chief commander of the Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command and an American general serves as deputy commander. In this case, Gen. Choi Byung-hyuk, current deputy commander of the Combined Forces Command, will act as the commander, and U.S. Gen. Robert Abrams will be deputy commander.

Pyongyang is expected to lash out at Seoul for conducting the combined exercise with Washington, as it has many times in the past.

On July 26, a day after the North test-fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles, Pyongyang said via its state media that the test was “a solemn warning to the South Korean military warmongers who are running high fever in their moves to introduce the ultra-modern offensive weapons into South Korea and hold military exercise in defiance of the repeated warnings.”

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, KWON HYE-RIM [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]