Schedule for joint military drills will be released soonFollowing months of strategic reticence, Korea and the United States will soon reveal the schedule of their combined military drills, Korean defense sources said Monday.
“The two sides plan to announce the schedule of the joint training, postponed due to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, on Tuesday,” a source said.
The timetable and size of the annual Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercises are the primary concern, with a flurry of summit diplomacy on North Korea’s nuclear program just around the corner.
Military officials in Seoul said the upcoming drills will take place “on the level of previous years,” which suggests no big change in the overall scale.
But many view the allies as seeking to keep the military exercises, long condemned by Pyongyang as a symbol of hostility to the communist regime, low-key this year.
They plan to kick off the Foal Eagle field exercise, expected to last a month, in Korea on April 1.
Last year, it was staged from March 1 to April 30, and some U.S. strategic assets, including the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier, were mobilized.
Much attention is being focused on whether the United States will send high-profile assets such as aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and strategic bombers this year.
The allies are expected to hold Key Resolve simulation-oriented training for two weeks from April 23. It took place from March 13 to 24 last year.
They used to begin joint training in late February or early March.
Late last year, the liberal South Korean Moon Jae-in administration proposed putting the exercises off until after the Olympics in a bid to ease tensions before and during the global sports event.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un also shifted to a peace offensive, agreeing to hold summit talks with Moon and U.S. President Donald Trump this spring.
Moon is also mulling face-to-face talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the coming weeks to coordinate a strategy on North Korea. Abe reportedly also expressed a willingness to meet the North’s leader.
The national security advisers of South Korea, the United States and Japan had an unannounced meeting in San Francisco on the weekend to discuss reaching the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula, the Blue House told reporters Monday morning.