The South Korean military will begin a nine-day annual military exercise, aimed at enhancing interoperability and defense capabilities against North Korea, on Monday next week, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday.
Some 70,000 troops from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps will join the “Hoguk Exercise,” which will take place in areas including the Seoul metropolitan area, Gyeonggi Province, Gangwon Province and the West Sea, officials said.
The Army will stage field maneuvers in Yeoju and Icheon in Gyeonggi Province and the areas around the Namhan River. The Air Force and Navy will stage large-scale aerial and naval drills, including amphibious landing operations in the West Sea.
U.S. military forces will not participate in this year’s exercise. U.S. marine forces, stationed in Okinawa, Japan, were expected to take part, but notified the South Korean military that it cannot participate due to unspecified reasons.
Replacing the Team Spirit exercise in 1996, the Hoguk Exercise had focused on corps-level field maneuvers. Since 2008, the military has conducted the exercise with an emphasis on enhancing cooperation among all military branches.
South Korea and the U.S. annually held the Team Spirit exercise between 1976 and 1993. The exercise was cancelled in 1994 so as not to aggravate inter-Korean relations.
By Song Sang-ho (email@example.com)