See More on Facebook

Diplomacy

South Korea and US scrap war games in pursuit of diplomacy

Allies to launch Dong Maeng exercise this week to replace Key Resolve drills.


Written by

Updated: March 4, 2019

South Korea and the United States will launch the new Dong Maeng combined exercise this week to replace their springtime Key Resolve drills, their militaries announced Sunday.

Seoul’s Joint chiefs of Staff and the South Korea-US Combined Forces Command said that the nine-day command post exercise kicks off on Monday, two days after the allies’ defense chiefs decided to end the annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle maneuvers to back diplomacy for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

“Dong Maeng, which means alliance in English, has been modified from the previously held spring exercises Key Resolve and Foal Eagle and will focus on strategic, operational and tactical aspects of general military operations on the Korean Peninsula,” they said in a joint press release.

Seoul’s JCS Chairman Gen. Park Han-ki and CFC Commander Gen. Robert Abrams jointly said that the upcoming exercise is important for professional armies to train and maintain “a standard of readiness.”

“These exercises are crucial in sustaining and strengthening the alliance,” they were quoted as saying.

With the Key Resolve effectively supplanted by the new exercise, the allies are expected to conduct low-key battalion-or lower-level drills in place of the Foal Eagle field training throughout the year.

In telephone talks Saturday, Seoul’s Defense Minister, Jeong Kyeong-doo, and acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan decided to end the two exercises, reflecting their resolve to keep alive dialogue with Pyongyang despite the breakup of last week’s summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Pyongyang has criticized the exercises as rehearsals for invasion despite the allies’ argument that those regular drills are purely defensive in nature.

“The minister and secretary 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,” Seoul’s defense ministry and Pentagon said in a joint press statement.

The decision was based on recommendations by Gen. Park and Gen. Abrams, they said.

Jeong and Shanahan also affirmed their continued support for their armed forces, the CFC and the US-led UN Command for peace and security in the region.

On Thursday, Trump and Kim abruptly ended their two-day summit in Hanoi without a deal as they failed to compromise over the scope of Washington’s sanctions relief and of Pyongyang’s denuclearization. But they indicated they will keep the door open for talks.

The Key Resolve exercise refers to computer-simulated war games based on the allies’ contingency plans against North Korean aggression. It involves staff and troops from South Korea’s defense ministry and military, and those from the US Forces Korea and the US Indo-Pacific Command.

The exercise originated from the RSOI (reception, staging, onward Movement, integration) exercise, which was renamed the Key Resolve in 2008 due to the need to reorganize the exercise in line with a 2007 deal between the allies on the transfer of wartime operational control.

The RSOI was first staged in 1994 after the allies’ Team Spirit exercise, launched in 1976, was suspended amid diplomacy with Pyongyang.

The Foal Eagle field training was first launched in 1961. Since 2002, it was timed to coincide with the RSOI to enhance the efficiency of the combined drills. After the renaming of the RSOI in 2008, it proceeded together with the Key Resolve.

In recent months, the allies’ military authorities have repeatedly said that they are committed to facilitating ongoing diplomacy to denuclearize the North and foster a lasting peace regime on the divided peninsula.

Last year, Seoul and Washington suspended a set of major exercises, including the summertime Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise and wintertime Vigilant Ace air exercise, though they continued smaller-scale drills to maintain combat readiness.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


The Korea Herald
About the Author: The Korea Herald is the nation’s largest English-language daily and the country’s sole member of the Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy

PM Imran welcomes release of 2 hostages by Taliban in Afghanistan

Pakistan has stakes in any high level talks between the Taliban and the United States. The Taliban insurgents released two Western hostages — Kevin King from the United States and Timothy Weeks from Australia — on Tuesday in a prisoner exchange deal with the Afghan government, two Afghan officials said. “This morning at around 10am two American University professors were released in Nawbahar district of Zabul province. They were flown out of Zabul by American helicopters,” a local police source said. “The two professors are safely freed and are being taken care of now,” one of the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters. The American and Australian were exchanged with three Taliban leaders, including key militant figure Anas Haqqani, added Reuters. Three Taliban sources in the province also confirmed the release. There was, h


By Dawn
November 20, 2019

Diplomacy

Beijing’s comments on HK court decision could signal direct intervention

Beijing has rejected a Hong Kong court decision. China has firmly rejected the Hong Kong High Court’s decision to overturn a controversial mask ban aimed at quelling violent protests, prompting experts to say the central government could soon act to ensure its constitutional authority over Hong Kong is not challenged. China’s Parliament and Cabinet both issued statements early on Tuesday (Nov 19) morning that the ruling challenged the authority of both the Hong Kong authorities and the central government. The response came a day after the city’s High Court ruled that th


By The Straits Times
November 20, 2019

Diplomacy

What is Oplan Tokhang and why is it in the news?

A particular phrase has popped up a number of times in news from the Philippines in the past several days that is probably a mystery to much of the world. That phrase is Oplan Tokhang, a concept that is directly related to the country’s drug war. Discussions around this idea will be something to keep an eye on in the coming weeks and months. What is Oplan Tokhang? First, what does it mean? The word tokhang, is a made-up portmanteau of the local words for knock (tok) and plead (hangyo) and describes police operations that were launched by the Duterte administration in July of 2016 that involved officers going door to door to root out drug-related offenders. The phrase has become synonymous with the Duterte administration’s notoriously brutal war on drugs, with the word tokhang becoming directly associated with the killings r


By Quinn Libson
November 20, 2019

Diplomacy

N. Korea rejects nuclear talks before US withdraws hostile policy

The US and South Korea have suspended a joint air drill to appease Pyongyang. North Korea said Tuesday it has no interest in denuclearization negotiations with the United States unless Washington drops its “hostile” policy. Kim Yong-chol, who formerly led the negotiations as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s counterpart, issued the statement in response to Sunday’s decision by South Korea and the US to postpone military exercises in support of diplomatic efforts to denuclearize the North. “What we are demanding from the US is that it withdraw from combined military exercises with South Korea or completely stop the exercises,” Kim, a vice chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Committee, said in the statement carried by the North’s Korean Central News Agency. “Postponing the combined military exercises does not guarantee peace


By Cod Satrusayang
November 19, 2019

Diplomacy

US-Thai defence treaty looks to cement alliance in 21st century

Thailand is the US’ oldest treaty ally in Southeast Asia. Thailand and the United States have signed a defence treaty to enable stability, prosperity and sustainability in the Indo-Pacific region “in support of an inclusive and rules-based international order”. The US-Thailand Joint Vision Statement 2020 advances the 2018 US National Defence Strategy and Thailand’s 20-Year National Strategy objectives “by reaffirming our shared commitment to the long-standing defence alliance”, according to a statement issued by the US embassy in Bangkok on Sunday. “It strengthens the special relationship with a focus on the long-term advancement of mutual interests and shared values while also promoting security cooperation capable of deterring or acting decisively to meet the shared challenges of the future”, the statement added. Academics said the move reaffirmed US policy o


By The Nation (Thailand)
November 18, 2019

Diplomacy

Coming challenges call for stronger Korea-ASEAN ties

President Moon Jae-in contributed this article to The Korea Herald and Asia News Network member newspapers on the occasion of the 2019 ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit.  Next week, November 25-27, the 2019 ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit and the 1st Mekong-Republic of Korea Summit will be held in Korea. In particular, since my hometown Busan will play host to the events, I am very much looking forward to them – as if I have invited valued guests to my home. I send early greetings in a warm welcome to the heads of state and government as well as to the Secretary-General of ASEAN. The Republic of Korea was ASEAN’s first dialogue partner to establish an ASEAN Culture House. Koreans love ASEAN so much that the National ASEAN Recreation Forest was created complete with cabins modeled after the various traditional housing styles of the 10 ASEAN member states. After I took offic


By Asia News Network
November 18, 2019