South Korea and the United States finished a two-month long military drill on Friday after conducting a series of combat field trainings aimed at enhancing their joint combat readiness against North Korea.
The Foal Eagle exercise, which began in late February shortly after reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, has heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula as Pyongyang angrily responded to the annual drill. It mobilized 200,000 South Korean forces and 7,500 American troops.
The allies also held a two-week war game Key Resolve from Feb. 24-March 6, involving 10,000 South Korean troops and 5,200 American forces to improve joint deterrence.
During the exercise period, the communist state test-fired a spate of short-range missiles and rockets and launched two midrange ballistic missiles capable of hitting Japan in a show of force, drawing international condemnation.
As part of the large-scale drill, Navies and Marine Corps of the two nations staged Ssangyong exercise, their largest-ever landing drill, earlier this month.
The allies also launched a joint aerial exercise Max Thunder, involving about 100 warplanes and some 1,400 pilots, which will run through next week.
The North denounced Seoul and Washington for launching the drills to prepare “a nuclear war,” threatening to carry out a “new form” of atomic test to bolster its nuclear deterrence.
Pyongyang has routinely stepped up its hostile rhetoric during the annual training, calling it as a rehearsal for a northward invasion.
The impoverished communist state conducted nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013, drawing international condemnation and U.N. sanctions.
bout 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty. (Yonhap)