South Korea and the US will begin their combined springtime military training this week to further solidify the allies’ defense posture, Seoul officials said on Sunday.
The nine-day command post training using a computer simulation is scheduled to kick off on Monday and it does not include any field troop maneuvers, Yonhap news agency reported, citing the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
The exercise comes amid renewed tensions by the North’s weekend test of a purported new tactical guided weapon and concerns that it could engage in provocative acts around the 90th founding anniversary of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army on April 25.
“The training this time is aimed at enhancing the combined operational capabilities of South Korean and US troops and will serve as an opportunity to further solidify the allies’ combined defense posture,” the JCS said in a statement.
Based on the allies’ contingency plans, the computerized training program involves a series of wartime operational procedures, including defending against potential invaders and fighting back.
Pyongyang has long criticized the training as a rehearsal for a war of invasion against it, though Seoul and Washington have stressed the regular training is defensive in nature.
During the upcoming exercise, the South and the US are unlikely to carry out a key assessment of the former’s capabilities to lead combined defense — a requirement for the transition of wartime operational control (OPCON) to Seoul from Washington.
During their defense ministerial talks in December, the two sides agreed to conduct the full operational capability (FOC) assessment this year. They are expected to discuss the exact timing of the FOC assessment after the incoming government of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol is launched next month.