August 05, 2019 13:23
The U.S. and South Korea start joint military exercises on Monday, but they are still nameless.
"The exercises will last about two weeks but we can't reveal the official name," a military spokesman here said Sunday.
Originally they were meant to be called "Alliance 19-2," numbered sequentially according to the year, but North Korea for some reason took exception to the word "alliance," and the government here is minded to appease the North. A government source said, "North Korea protested strongly against using the name 'alliance' and we thought hard about changing it."
Last month, the North Korean Foreign Ministry threatened to boycott working-level denuclearization talks with the U.S. if the drills go ahead.
The drills aim to test whether South Korea is capable of taking over operational control from the U.S., so one option is to include OPCON in the name.
The drills consist of a preparatory phase, which will test readiness to deal with various isolated provocations and acts of terrorism, and a main exercise that trains soldiers how to respond in a full-fledged war.
They mainly involve computer simulations rather than actual troop movements and will be the first test of the South Korean military's initial operational capability to take over wartime control, which the U.S. has been handling so far. They will not simulate any operations north of the border.
Former Joint Chiefs of Staff deputy chairman Shin Won-sik said, "It looks like no proper exercise will not take place and only theories are discussed. It's worrisome to see that such an important test for the transfer of wartime operations control is being viewed merely as a procedural matter."
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com