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S. Korean, U.S. marines to hold first joint drill on border islands

South Korean and U.S. marines will stage their first joint drill on islands near the Yellow Sea border with North Korea this year, in a show of force to the North that its provocations won’t be tolerated, officials said Thursday.

Marine commanders from the two allies discussed details about the planned drill at their regular “Staff Talk” held on Baengnyeong Island this week, officials at the South’s Marine Corps said.
South Korean and U.S. Marine officials hold the first senior-level tactical “Staff Talk” on Bangnyeong Island Thursday to discuss bilateral alliance issues and ways to better protect the northwestern border islands. (Marine Corps)
South Korean and U.S. Marine officials hold the first senior-level tactical “Staff Talk” on Bangnyeong Island Thursday to discuss bilateral alliance issues and ways to better protect the northwestern border islands. (Marine Corps)

“Although the exact timing of the planned drill has not been fixed yet, it will be the first time that South Korean and U.S. marines hold a joint drill on the islands,” an official at the Marine Corps said on the condition of anonymity.

It was also the first time that South Korean and U.S. troops held military strategy talks on a Yellow Sea border island since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, the official said.

A source at the South’s military said the planned drill could be staged in July before the allies start their annual military drills, dubbed “Ulchi Freedom Guardian,” set for August.

Tensions persist on the Korean Peninsula following North Korea’s two deadly attacks on South Korea last year. The North sank a South Korean warship and bombarded one of its border islands, leaving 50 people, including two civilians, dead.

In particular, the North’s shelling of Yeonpyeong Island marked its first direct attack aimed at South Korean territory since the end of the three-year war.

During the talks on Baengnyeong Island, marine commanders inspected training sites and other conditions on the five islands near the Yellow Sea border, the Marine Corps said in a statement.

A number of U.S. marine commanders from the Marine Force Pacific Command and the III Marine Expeditionary Force, including Col. Ward Thomas and Lt. Col. Turner Larry, participated in the three-day talks, according to the statement. 

(Yonhap News)
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