South Korea, US launch largest military drills
South Korea and the United States began their largest joint military drills in years on August 22 with a resumption of field training, as the allies seek to tighten readiness over North Korea's potential weapons tests, News.Az reports citing Reuters.
The annual summertime exercises, renamed Ulchi Freedom Shield this year and scheduled to end on September 1, came after South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office in May, vowed to "normalise" the combined exercises and boost deterrence against the North.
South Korea separately launched the four-day Ulchi civil defence drills on Monday, designed to boost government readiness, for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic emerged.
The military and civil exercises are aimed at improving the country's preparedness to match the changing patterns of war, with evolving cyber threats against key facilities such as chip factories and supply chains, Yoon said.
"Maintaining peace on the Korean peninsula is built on our airtight security posture," Yoon told a cabinet meeting, calling for thorough exercises based on real-world scenarios.
The drills were the largest since 2017 after being scaled back because of COVID-19 and as Yoon's predecessor sought to restart talks with Pyongyang, which has called the exercises a rehearsal for invasion.
North Korea fired two cruise missiles from the west coast last week, after South Korea and the United States kicked off preliminary training for the exercises.