Asia Minute: South Korea Wants to Delay Joint Military Exercises

Dec 21, 2017

Credit Wikimedia Commons

The Winter Olympics are scheduled to open seven weeks from tomorrow. The games will be held in South Korea, and the government there is asking the United States to delay a set of annual joint military exercises until after the Olympics. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

It’s no surprise the Korean peninsula remains a popular focus for joint military drills.

Earlier this month, the United States and South Korea held five days of exercises involving 12,000 personnel and 230 aircraft.

In September, Russia and China staged naval drills near Russia’s border with North Korea.

Each of North Korea’s missile tests this year has been followed by military exercises of some form involving U.S. forces, in coordination with allies.

But the biggest annual joint exercises for U.S. and South Korean forces usually take place in early March. They’re known as “Key Resolve” and “Foal Eagle.”

They run at the same time, Key Resolve is what Pentagon officials call a “computer-simulated command post exercise”—lasting about two weeks.

Foal Eagle includes ground troops, amphibious landings and more, and lasts about 8 weeks. About 15,000 U.S. forces are involved, close to 300,000 from South Korea.

These are the two exercises the President of South Korea wants to delay. While the Olympic Games will be over by March, the Paralympic Games will continue through the middle of the month.

President Moon Jae-in says the purpose of the delay would only be to insure safety at the Olympics—and not to make any concessions to North Korea.