South Korea and the U.S. will kick off their two major annual joint military drills later next month, officials of the allies announced Friday.
They said the Key Resolve exercise will start on Feb. 27 and go on until March 9. Separately, the Foal Eagle exercise will be held from March 1 to April 30.
The Key Resolve will involve about 200,000 South Korean troops, plus 2,100 U.S. troops. About 800 U.S. participants will come from outside South Korea, according to the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC). The Foal Eagle will include about 11,000 U.S. forces, plus South Korean troops in division-sized or smaller units, officials added.
“Exercise Key Resolve is an annual training event designed to ensure readiness to defend the Republic of Korea and sustain the capabilities that strengthen the ROK-U.S. alliance,” said Gen.
James D. Thurman, the CFC commander, referring to South Korea by its official name. “Exercise Foal Eagle is an annual series of combined and joint tactical field training exercises providing valuable military training based on realistic requirements and missions expected of our ROK and U.S. forces here on the Korean Peninsula.”
North Korea has long balked at these annual exercises, claiming that they amount to a prelude to invasion north of the border.
Pyongyang has often threatened strong retaliation against any provocation.
CFC officials said the U.N. Command informed North Korea, through its communication channel at the border village of Panmunjom, of the exercises’ dates and their “non-provocative nature.”
Officials stressed these exercises are “routine and defense-oriented” and they’re planned months ahead, with no connection to current international affairs.
They also said Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Britain, members of the U.N. Command, will take part in the Key Resolve as observers.