The United States and South Korea announced on Sunday that they are eliminating their massive springtime military drills and replacing them with smaller exercises in diplomatic effort to end the North Korean nuclear crisis.
In a press release, the Pentagon said that the U.S. and South Korean defense chiefs decided to conclude the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle series of exercises. It said the allies agreed to maintain firm military readiness through newly designed command post exercises and revised field training programs.
Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan and South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo “made clear that the alliance decision to adapt our training program reflected our desire to reduce tension and support our diplomatic efforts to achieve complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a final, fully verified manner,” the statement said.
The new training, dubbed “Dong Maeng,” which means “alliance” in English, starts Monday and runs through March 12. It will focus on “strategic operational and tactical aspects of general military operations on the Korean Peninsula,” South Korea’s military and the U.S.-South Korean combined forces command said in a joint statement.
According to U.S. officials, the new training will be done in smaller drills, tabletop exercises and simulations, and will involve smaller units such as battalions and companies rather than massive formations involving thousands of troops, as they had in the past.
Officials said the Pentagon would focus on smaller exercises and mission essential tasks, which include the ability to integrate airstrikes and the use of other weapons systems, drones, surveillance assets, logistics and communications.