February 19, 2016 12:53
The annual Korea-U.S. joint exercises will be the largest ever in terms of both "quality and quantity," Defense Minister Han Min-goo told Saenuri Party officials at the National Assembly on Thursday.
Twice as many U.S. troops and double the equipment as before, or about 15,000 U.S. troops and hardware like a combat aviation brigade, a Marine mobile brigade, an aircraft carrier fleet, a nuclear-powered submarine fleet, and aerial refueling tankers, will be participating in the drills dubbed "Key Resolve/Foal Eagle."
On the Korean side, the troop numbers will be greater by half than usual at 290,000 personnel, including special operations forces, Army corps in the front-line areas, and Army divisions in the rear areas.
The exercises are aimed at ensuring that troop reinforcements from the mainland U.S. are integrated smoothly on the Korean Peninsula in an emergency.
Meanwhile, Han said the location for a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery will be decided once a joint task force makes a suggestion and the governments of Korea and the U.S. approve. "It's regrettable that a brawl over its deployment based on speculation has caused conflict and friction in some regions," Han said, coyly alluding to protests from China and the U.S. as well as resistance from Korean politicians.
Han also sought to debunk allegations on the internet that electromagnetic waves from THAAD batteries are harmful to locals in the areas where they are stationed. "We'll make sure that its deployment won't cause any worry," he added.
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