Pentagon press secretary John Kirby in a briefing on Thursday said U.S. Defense Minister Lloyd Austin remains committed to maintaining the readiness of American troops in South Korea through military exercises.
Kirby highlighted the importance of troop readiness amid North Korea’s continued pursuit of new advanced weapons.
He said there is no place that is more important than on the Korean peninsula in the value of training and exercises to keep forces ready.
His statement comes after questions had been raised on whether the South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises could be carried out this year.
The exercise planned for last March was postponed while the one carried out last August was shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it was conducted using computer simulation exercises that didn’t mobilize troops and weaponry.
Also recently, Seoul has said the two Koreas can discuss whether to postpone or cancel the joint exercises via an inter-Korean joint committee first mentioned by President Moon Jae-in earlier this month in response to North Korea’s continued opposition to holding the drills.
Defense Minister Suh Wook said earlier this week that the military is preparing for the exercises as planned in case there’s no progress in inducing a response from North Korea to discuss the matter.

“The combined exercise in the first half of this year is a computer-simulated command post exercise without outdoor drills. It is a regular program and for defense purposes. We are closely discussing how to conduct it in detail with the U.S.”

The minister had also vowed to make significant progress in the envisioned transfer of operational control from Washington to Seoul during his term which requires going through the joint exercises in their entirety.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.

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