US, South Korea launch joint military drills

2 allies plan to conduct 13 combined field training programs during 11-day exercises, according to reports.

US, South Korea launch joint military drills

The US and South Korean troops started their joint military exercises on Monday amid ongoing tension on the Korean Peninsula, local media reported.

The 11-day Ulchi Freedom Shield (UFS) exercises involved an array of contingency drills like concurrent field maneuvers that were not held over the past years, Yonhap News Agency reported.

These regular annual drills are defense-oriented in nature and aimed at strengthening the allies' joint combat readiness, according to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff.

This year, the two allies are also planning to conduct a set of field training, including firing drills.

Last year, North Korea strongly criticized the military drills and launched several missile tests in reaction.

The UFS will incorporate drills for various real-life scenarios, including the discovery of improvised explosive devices at nuclear power plants, a fire at a semiconductor factory, paralysis of a banking network, terrorism at airports and drone attacks, the agency quoted the Defense Ministry as saying.

The allies plan to conduct 13 combined field training programs during the joint drill.

Ahead of these exercises, on Wednesday North Korea test-fired two cruise missiles toward the Yellow Sea.

On Friday, Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, while rejecting the South Korean president's economic incentive offer, said: "A knave who talks about the bold plan today and stages anti-North war exercises tomorrow is none other than mastermind (South Korean President) Yoon Suk-yeol."

Last month, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un also warned South Korea against any military action.

"Such a dangerous attempt would be punished immediately by powerful forces, and the Yoon Suk-yeol administration and his military would be wiped out," Kim said while addressing an event in the capital Pyongyang.

Tension on the peninsula rose in 2020 when North Korea attacked and blew up the inter-Korean liaison office along the border. Seoul has threatened a strong response if Pyongyang "further worsens the situation."

However, tensions soared further last year when both Seoul and Pyongyang ramped up military drills to show off their might.

The US and South Korea have made repeated offers of dialogue with North Korea in order to defuse current tensions on the peninsula, but it has yet to respond.

Hüseyin Demir

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