U.S., South Korea may resume training for war with North Korea

The U.S. and South Korean military forces may resume joint exercises next year, despite President Trump's suspension of exercises during the June summit with North Korea.
By Rick Docksai | Aug 31, 2018
U.S. military exercises with South Korea might take place again, Defense Secretary James Mattis indicated this week. The announcement suggests the end of the suspension that President Trump had announced on such exercises in June as a goodwill gesture to North Korea--and may be a further sign that the denuclearization talks are fizzling out.

Speaking at the Pentagon on Tuesday, Mattis told reporters that exercises that U.S. and South Korean officials had previously scheduled for the year ahead will proceed as planned. They will start in spring 2019 with Foal Eagle, a massive field-training exercise that incorporates training for ground maneuvers, air combat, amphibious assault, and special operations.

"We took the step to suspend several of the largest exercises as a good-faith measure coming out of the Singapore summit," Mattis said. "We have no plans at this time to suspend any more exercises."

Mattis amended his statement the next day, adding that defense officials are in the process of deciding whether Foal Eagle will take place or not. He said that "no decisions have been made about suspending any future exercises."

The North Korean regime has long derided the exercises as "provocative" and "threatening," and demanded their indefinite suspension as a precondition for peace talks. Trump suspended all major joint U.S.-South Korea training exercises accordingly when he and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met in June. He and administration officials said that they would refrain from further exercises while de-nuclearization talks proceeded.

The talks appear to have stalled since then, however, with U.S. intelligence concluding that North Korea is continuing to build nuclear weapons-related infrastructure and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Meanwhile, standoffs have persisted between North Korean and U.S. diplomats over what terms North Korea must accept as part of a lasting agreement.

 

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