SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)- South Korea has launched its largest joint military exercise in almost two decades with the US, despite North Korea’s opposition to the move.
The 12-day Hoguk drills which involve all branches of service, including the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, started across the country on Monday.
The drills “will focus on ways to establish supreme military defense capabilities against possible regional provocations and all-out war,” South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement.
The military maneuver also includes joint landing drills, maritime infiltration defense drills, and drills to defend the northwestern islands in the Yellow Sea.
Nearly 330,000 military servicemen are taking part in the exercise, which is South Korea’s largest since 1996, when Seoul started annual military drills with US.
South Korea’s previous drills involved around 80,000 service personnel.
The drills will partially involve the United States forces, the JCS said.
About 28,500 US soldiers are deployed to South Korea to deal with the alleged threats from North Korea.
“As North Korea is believed to have carried out intensive military drills in recent months, we’ve decided to launch the largest-ever scale of the drills in response in order to boost our capabilities,” a JCS officer said on condition of anonymity.
Earlier on Monday, North Korea condemned the exercise, denouncing the move as tantamount to an “intrusion into the North.”
The military maneuver proves that Seoul is the main culprit for straining the inter-Korean relations, Pyongyang noted.
The two neighbors remain technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.