The combined forces of South Korea and the US kicked off their joint annual military exercises in a scaled-back manner in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said on Monday.
The Combined Command Post Training (CCPT), or the annually-held computer-simulated command post exercise in springtime, was scheduled to last until March 18, reports Xinhua news agency.
No field manoeuvers will be staged this year amid the continued pandemic.
Tough antivirus measures will be in place throughout the training period, a South Korean military official was quoted as saying.
In 2020, the two sides cancelled the springtime command post exercise and carried out the summertime one in an adjusted manner amid the pandemic.
Boo Seung-chan, a spokesman of South Korea’s Defence Ministry, told a press briefing that the verification of the Full Operational Capability (FOC) will be limited this year out of the comprehensive consideration of relevant conditions, such as the Covid situation, combat readiness posture and efforts to settle peace on the Korean Peninsula.
The FOC verification is crucial in an early transfer of the wartime operational command of South Korean forces from the US.
South Korea’s wartime command was handed over to the US forces after the 1950-53 Korean War broke out.
South Korea won back its peacetime operational control in 1994.
Boo noted that this year’s CCPT will involve a part of a rehearsal for theater operations, led by the Combined Forces Command under the command of a four-star South Korean general.
South Korea has claimed that the joint annual military drills with the US are defensive in nature, but Pyongyang has denounced it as a dress rehearsal for a northward invasion.