South Korea and the U.S. have indefinitely postponed their joint military drills originally scheduled to take place next month as COVID-19 spreads rapidly. This is the first time that the joint military drills have been postponed due to an infectious disease since it began in 1954. The novel coronavirus is now affecting security, going beyond public health and economic matters.
“We have decided to put the first half-year combined command post exercise off until further notice in light of Seoul's decision to raise its alert rating to 'severe,' the highest level, over COVID-19,” Col. Lee Peters, director of public affairs for the Combined Forces Command and the U.S. Forces Korea, and Col. Kim Jun-rak, spokesperson of South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), said in a joint announcement on Thursday. Military sources say the March drills have been practically canceled considering the rapid spread of COVID-19 and future military exercise timeline.
As a result of the decision, ROK-U.S. military drills that have been scaled down to the battalion or lower level since the inter-Korean military agreement made on September 19, 2018 are likely to be postponed or canceled. This may affect South Korea President Moon Jae-in’s plan to achieve the transfer of wartime operational control during his term.
Kyu-Jin Shin email@example.com