- The Washington Times - Monday, February 26, 2018

Senior defense brass in Washington and Seoul are hashing out details on the latest iteration of an annual, large-scale military exercise on the peninsula, despite North Korean warnings to cease such operations in the wake of the recent Olympic games.

U.S. and South Korean commanders are in the process of zeroing in on a start date for the exercise, known as Foal Eagle, after being forced to postpone the drill due to the Olympics, Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning told reporters Monday.

He declined to comment on what dates both countries were considering for the exercise, one of the largest military drills in the world, but noted “it will be an alliance decision when that [exercise] will occur,” Col. Manning told reporters at the Pentagon.

That said, Washington remains intent on moving forward with this year’s Foal Eagle exercises, in spite of claims by Pyongyang that such a move could have a chilling effect on the goodwill generated between the U.S., Seoul and North Korea during the Olympics.

“From the outset, we have said we are going to deconflict [beginning] the exercise,” as to not interfere with the Olympic games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, but there was never any real consideration given to canceling the military exercise — which has been held for the last four decades on the peninsula — by the Pentagon, Col. Manning said.

The resumption of joint military drills continues to be “a provocative act of chilling the active efforts of the DPRK and enthusiasm of the international community to defuse tension and create a peaceful environment,” North Korean officials said in a statement on state-run media outlet Korean Central News Agency last week.

Officials in Pyongyang warned any military drills set to take place after the games in Pyeongchang “seriously threatened any hard-won atmosphere for reconciliation, and cooperation between the north and the south were spoilt in a moment,” the statement said.

It’s been over two months since over 200 U.S. and South Korean warplanes took to the skies above the Korean peninsula on Monday, in one of the largest military drills between the two allies in recent history and a massive show of force against the North Korean regime.

That exercise, dubbed Vigilant Ace, came less than a week after Pyongyang carried out a successful test launch of its newest intercontinental ballistic missile. The test launch of the new Hwasong-15 weapon traveled longer and further than any North Korean intercontinental missile to date.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide