Seoul, Aug 21 (EFE).- South Korea and the United States began Monday the Ulchi Freedom Shield military exercises in the Korean peninsula in the face of growing threats from North Korea.
The drills come after a recent trilateral summit between Seoul, Tokyo and Washington to strengthen their security cooperation, developments to which Pyongyang has responded by announcing a new missile test.
Ulchi Freedom Shield will continue until the end of the month and will include about 30 large-scale war drills, significantly more than that of previous years, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) of Seoul.
In the previous occasions, Pyongyang has described such drills as a rehearsal for invasion of its territory.
The start of the latest exercises occurred the same day that the North Korean media reported a visit by leader Kim Jong-un to a warship to oversee a cruise missile test.
The main objective of these annual maneuvers is to improve the coordination and preparation of South Korean and American troops in the scenario of North Korean weapons advances and growing tensions in the peninsula.
This year’s program includes maneuvers to accelerate the transition of troops’ positions to a war situation, or the response to Pyongyang’s dissemination of false information during a contingency.
Besides Seoul and Washington, military personnel from Australia, Canada, France, United Kingdom, Greece, Italy, New Zealand, and the Philippines, under the United Nations Command will also take part in the drills.
The air, naval and land divisions of the US and South Korean militaries will also be joined by an aerospace unit from the US contingent of troops in Korea.
Several dozen people demonstrated Monday in Seoul against the joint maneuvers and against the “extended deterrence” that the United States offers to South Korea, considering that it fuels tensions with Pyongyang. EFE