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US, South Korea begin largest joint military drills since 2017

The United States and South Korea kicked off their largest joint military exercises in five years Monday as Washington and Seoul ratchet up their defensive readiness against the growing nuclear threat from North Korea. ​​

The Ulchi Freedom Shield drills are expected to run through Sept. 1 and will involve aircraft, warships, tanks, and thousands of troops. Exercises will include simulating joint attacks and practicing front-line reinforcements as well as removing weapons of mass destruction.  

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office in May, called for ramping up the military drills after a fresh outburst of belligerence from Pyongyang. ​

“Maintaining peace on the Korean peninsula is built on our airtight security posture,” Yoon told a cabinet meeting​, according to Reuters, adding that he wanted to “normalize” training with the US.  

The drills have been scaled down in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and attempts by South Korea and the US to negotiate with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program. 

Talks have foundered between Washington and Pyongyang​ after the Trump administration rejected North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s demand that sanctions be eased in exchange for dismantling a nuclear complex.

U.S. and South Korean marines participate in a landing drill operation in Pohang in 2014.
The US and South Korea started joint military drills to prepare against the growing nuclear threat from North Korea.
South Korean soldiers perform a live-fire drill in Pocheon, Aug. 19, 2022.
South Korean soldiers perform a live-fire drill in Pocheon, Aug. 19, 2022.
South Korean apache attack helicopters flying at US Army base Camp in South Korea.
South Korean attack helicopters flying at a US Army base camp in South Korea.

North Korea, which views the military exercises as a pretext for launching an invasion, fired two cruise missiles last week ​off its west coast. 

Intelligence sources in the US and South Korea also believe North Korea is preparing for another nuclear test — its seventh since 2006 and the first since September 2017. 

With Post wires

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