Joint drill to mark 62nd year since Korean War

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Joint drill to mark 62nd year since Korean War

South Korean and U.S. armed forces will hold their largest live-fire exercise this week to mark the 62nd anniversary of the start of the Korean War, as tensions continue between the two Koreas, officials said yesterday.

The Friday exercise in Pocheon, Gyeonggi, near the tense border with the North will involve more than 2,000 troops, F-15K combat fighter planes, Apache attack helicopters and tanks, said officials at Seoul’s Ministry of National Defense.

The one-day drill, to be presided over by Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik, is aimed at displaying a watertight defense posture and war-fighting capabilities, ministry officials said.

An E-737 Airborne Early Warning and Control plane, dubbed “Peace Eye,” and T/A-50 light attack aircraft will take part in such a joint drill for the first time, officials said.

The drill plans to demonstrate how the allies would counter an attack by North Korean armed forces by re-enacting the invasion by the North 62 years ago, officials said.

The Korean War broke out on June 25, 1950, when tank-led North Korean troops invaded South Korea. The United States and 20 other allied countries fought on the side of South Korea under the UN flag. The conflict ended in a cease-fire three years later.

About 28,500 U.S. troops are currently stationed in South Korea, a legacy of the Korean War. South Korean and U.S. military officials have discussed ways to keep anti-North Korea deterrence strong as North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong-un, appears to stick to a policy of provocative acts, including a failed rocket launch in April. The young leader took over after his father and longtime ruler, Kim Jong-il, died last December.

Concern persists that North Korea may soon conduct a third nuclear test and wage military provocation to make amends for its failed launch, despite the North announcing it has no immediate plan to do so. The North’s previous two rocket launches in 2006 and 2009 were followed by nuclear tests.

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