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S. Korea, US set for 'largest-ever' live-fire drills to mark alliance's 70th anniversary

March 22, 2023 - 09:29 By Yonhap
K2 Black Panther tanks (Yonhap)

South Korea and the United States plan to conduct their "largest-ever" combined live-fire drills in June as part of a program to celebrate the 70th anniversary of their alliance, Seoul's defense ministry said Wednesday.

The ministry unveiled the program designed to strengthen the allies' solidarity, demonstrate their militaries' technological edge and highlight their focus on "realizing peace through strength via action," according to the ministry.

The allies have fleshed out the program amid joint efforts to reinforce deterrence against North Korea's continued provocations, including the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile last week.

For the live-fire training set for June, the two sides will mobilize high-tech military equipment, including pieces integrating both manned and unmanned assets, to demonstrate the alliance's firepower and maneuverability.

The allies have carried out massive combined live-fire drills less than 10 times, including the last in 2017.

South Korea is also seeking to hold the Armed Forces Day ceremony with the participation of the US Forces Korea in late September to demonstrate the alliance's "overwhelming" deterrence and response capabilities against North Korean threats, according to the ministry.

In addition, Seoul and Washington are working to craft a future defense vision of the bilateral alliance to be announced at their annual defense ministerial talks, called the Security Consultative Meeting, expected to come in October.

During the SCM, the allies plan to jointly host the first-ever meeting with defense ministers from member countries of the United Nations Command to reaffirm their support for security on the Korean Peninsula and strengthen solidarity with them, the ministry said.

The South and the US signed their mutual defense treaty, a bedrock alliance document, in October 1953, after the Korean War ended in a truce three months earlier. (Yonhap)