US, S. Korea to conduct ‘scaled-down’ aerial drills

08-Nov-2019 Intellasia | KoreaTimes | 6:02 AM Print This Post

A government official said Thursday that the United States and South Korea will conduct a “scaled-down” joint air force exercise sometime later this month.

“Because the key focus of the upcoming drill is to check our combined defense posture and readiness through C4I systems, the allied forces plan to scale back the upcoming exercise,” the official said.

In December 2017, the two countries held “Vigilant Ace,” which involved hundreds of the latest military aircraft and “strategic military assets” from the US to confirm the combat readiness of the allied air forces.

The scaled-back exercise comes after the denuclearisation dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang stalled.

Negotiators from the United States and North Korea held talks in Stockholm in early October, but no agreement was reached. Prior to these, North Korea tested an advanced inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM).

The North’s leader Kim Jong-un later ordered the demolition of South Korean-built assets at the Mount Geumgang Resort, a rare symbolic inter-Korean economic project.

The official said the allied forces would “continue to back up” diplomatic efforts to denuclearise North Korea and the Korean Peninsula. Pentagon spokesman David Eastburn said this week that the United States had “no plans to skip upcoming combined exercises” this year.

Despite the decision to conduct scaled-back aerial drills, the North blasted the United States over the issue, threatening Washington that it could possibly resume testing ICBPyongyang earlier vowed to suspend nuclear and long-range missile tests, and to deactivate its major Tongchang-ri rocket facility.

“Our patience is nearing the limits and we won’t be sitting still and watching the United States’ reckless military move,” the North’s official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted foreign ministry official Kwon Jong-gun as saying. Kwon said the announcement of the joint exercise was equivalent to a “declaration for confrontation” that could imperil the diplomatic process.

The North Korean official was a member of the delegation to the failed working-level nuclear disarmament negotiations in Sweden. Kim has set an end-of-year deadline for Washington to come up with a new approach to the denuclearisation talks.


Category: Korea

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