world
Monday Aug 22 2022
By
Reuters

South Korea, US begin largest military drills in years amid North Korea backlash

By
Reuters
The South Korean and American flags fly next to each other at Yongin, South Korea, August 23, 2016. Picture taken on August 23, 2016. Courtesy Ken Scar/US. — Reuters
The South Korean and American flags fly next to each other at Yongin, South Korea, August 23, 2016. Picture taken on August 23, 2016. Courtesy Ken Scar/US. — Reuters

  • Two allies seek to tighten readiness over North Korea's potential weapons tests.
  • Annual summertime exercises renamed Ulchi Freedom Shield this year.
  • South Korea separately launched the four-day Ulchi civil defence drills on Monday.


SEOUL: South Korea and the United States began their largest joint military drills in years on Monday with a resumption of field training, officials said, as the allies seek to tighten readiness over North Korea's potential weapons tests.

The annual summertime exercises, renamed Ulchi Freedom Shield this year and scheduled to end on September 1, came after South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office in May, vowed to "normalise" the combined exercises and boost deterrence against the North.

South Korea separately launched the four-day Ulchi civil defence drills on Monday, designed to boost government readiness, for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic emerged.

The military and civil exercises are aimed at improving the country's preparedness to match the changing patterns of war, with evolving cyber threats against key facilities such as chip factories and supply chains, Yoon said.

"Maintaining peace on the Korean peninsula is built on our airtight security posture," Yoon told a cabinet meeting, calling for thorough exercises based on real-world scenarios.

The drills were the largest since 2017 after being scaled back because of COVID-19 and as Yoon's predecessor sought to restart talks with Pyongyang, which has called the exercises a rehearsal for invasion.

North Korea fired two cruise missiles from the west coast last week, after South Korea and the United States kicked off preliminary training for the exercises.