South Korea and the United States have announced that they will end their large-scale joint military exercises Key Resolve (KR) and Foal Eagle (FE) and launch a new command post exercise (CPX). Named the “Dong Maeng,” the exercise will take place from Monday to next Tuesday. Battalion- or lower-level drills will replace the Foal Eagle field training throughout the year.
Seoul’s Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, “following close coordination,” decided to conclude the two exercises in telephone talks Saturday, the authorities said Sunday. The Key Resolve had been conducted for 12 years since it was renamed from the Reception, Staging, Onward movement, and Integration (RSOI) combined exercise. First launched by the current name in 1975, the Foal Eagle exercise had been held together with the Key Resolve for 44 years.
“The Minister and Secretary made clear that the Alliance decision to adapt out training program reflected our desire to reduce tension and support out diplomatic efforts to achieve complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in a final, fully verified manner,” according to a joint press statement. This reflects their resolve to keep alive dialogue with North Korea despite the breakdown of last week’s summit negotiations between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi.
With the allies’ springtime drills replaced with smaller versions, some speculate that the deployment of the U.S. strategic assets on the Korean Peninsula will be scaled back or halted, and that other regular joint exercises will be also concluded. “If they decide to terminate all annual combined drills, it would disrupt the allies’ defense posture and preparations for the transfer of the wartime operational control,” a military official said.
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