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U. S. and South Korea Stage Huge Military Exercises Starting Today Despite Tensions

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The 10-day joint military exercise will involve 17,500 American troops and 50,000 South Korean soldiers. The U. S. has called it a ‘defensive exercise.”
By Aaron Kesel
The U. S. and South Korean militaries will go forward with their annual massive sea, land and air drills today, despite tension with North Korea who has recently threatened to shoot four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missiles toward  the U. S. owned island of Guam .
The annual joint exercises started in the 1970s, called Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, have long been planned for the end of August, but this time the drill which has often drawn scrutiny has come at a time when both Washington and Pyongyang have traded threats back and forth.
The 10-day joint military exercise will involve 17,500 American troops and 50,000 South Korean soldiers. The U. S. has called it a ‘defensive exercise.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in also said in a statement that the joint drills, were purely “defensive” and did not aim to raise tensions on the peninsula, Reuters reported .
“There is no intent at all to heighten military tension on the Korean peninsula as these drills are held annually and are of a defensive nature, ” Jae-in told Cabinet ministers.
“North Korea should not exaggerate our efforts to keep peace nor should they engage in provocations that would worsen the situation, using (the exercise) as an excuse, ” Jae-in said.
In the past during the drills, one of the more controversial operations that took place was called “decapitation strikes” – a simulated attempt to kill Kim Jong-un and his top generals. It is not known if that part of the operation will be carried out or not during these exercises.
If it does include this exercise that would only further antagonize an already paranoid North Korean leadership, potentially provoking them to do something brash.
The U. S and South Korea hold two sets of war games every year, involving a massive number of troops and expansive display of military hardware.
The first operation Foal Eagle/Key Resolve is held in the spring, while the second Ulchi-Freedom Guardian (UFG) is in autumn.

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