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ROK-U.S. to resume joint military drills in five years

Posted July. 21, 2022 07:52,   

Updated July. 21, 2022 07:52


It is reported that Ulchi Freedom Shield (UFS) is considered the most prominent new name for the ROK-U.S. joint military exercise scheduled for August, the first since the inauguration of the Yoon Suk-yeol administration. The Key Resolve (KR), Foal Eagle (FE), and Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG), whose name would be changed into Ulchi Freedom Shield, are the three major joint military drills between the two countries. Of note, the UFS is getting resumed in five years since it was abolished in 2018 during the former Moon Jae-in administration. The two countries are reported to have agreed on conducting an outdoor drill as well.

South Korea and the U.S. have reached consensus on the new name for their military drills, UFS, scheduled for Aug. 22 to Sept. 1. Ulchi Freedom Shield practically inherited its former name, Ulchi Freedom Guardian, with the only difference found in the last letter. “Whether to include the word ‘ally’ or to stick to the original name was discussed, but the UFS was the final pick,” said a person familiar with the matter in the government.

The former Moon administration abolished all three joint military exercises and substantially reduced the size of the drills, mostly as a result of keeping with the talks with North Korea on de-nuclearization. In a move to reverse the decision of the former administration, South Korea and the U.S. have agreed to resume the joint drills, including an outdoor one, in addition to changing the name of the drill. The August joint exercise used to be conducted as a computer simulation-based training exercise; but this year’s August military drill will include an outdoor drill to increase the effect of the training. Earlier, the leaders of the two countries announced in the joint statement in May that they had agreed on the resumption and expansion of the joint military exercises in response to the evolving threats from North Korea. However, even if an outdoor drill is resumed, it appears to be difficult to mobilize a large number of troops greater than the size of regiments.

The United States Forces Korea stated that its policy is not to publicly state its opinion on either planned or conducted jointly military drills, but that every decision with regard to joint military exercises will be made by the ROK-U.S. alliance.

Kyu-Jin Shin newjin@donga.com