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Korea, U.S. set for largest-ever Marine drills

WASHINGTON ― More than 10,000 Marines from South Korea and the United States will kick off their largest-ever joint amphibious landing training late this month, the Pentagon said Monday.

This year’s Ssang Yong (double dragon) exercise will be held from March 27 to April 7 on the Korean Peninsula, involving about 7,500 U.S. Marines, 2,000 U.S. Navy personnel as well as 3,500 South Korean Marines and 1,000 South Korea Navy sailors, according to Lt. Col. Jeff Pool, a Department of Defense spokesman.

The U.S. Marines belong to the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, based in Okinawa, Japan.

They will also be joined by 130 Australian Army troops and “quite a few” V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft stationed in Okinawa, he added. The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey is a multi-mission military plane with vertical takeoff and landing capability.

A total of 12 South Korean and U.S. Navy amphibious ships plan to participate in the drills to take place as part of the Foal Eagle exercise between the allies.

“The scale of this year’s Ssang Yong is greater than any other in the past, proving the Navy and Marine Corps’ ability to conduct the full spectrum of a combined arms, amphibious landing operations in cooperation with our international partners,” the Pentagon official said in a press release.

The annual Ssang Yong exercise will enhance interoperability between the U.S. Marine air-ground task force and South Korea’s Marine task force while honing amphibious capabilities of each nation’s Navy and Marine Corps, he added.

Foal Eagle started on Feb. 24 for an eight-week run, separate from a two-week computer-simulated Key Resolve exercise that ended on March 6.

In an apparent protest at the regular joint drills, North Korea fired more than a dozen Scud-type missiles and artillery shells into the ocean earlier this month. (Yonhap)
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