November 06, 2019 13:14
The U.S. Defense Department wants to stage a joint aerial drill formerly named "Vigilant Ace" under a new name.
Seoul on Sunday said Vigilant Ace is being suspended for the second year running to appease North Korea, and added South Korea and the U.S. will conduct their exercises separately instead.
But now the U.S. seems to have relented, and Pentagon spokesman Dave Eastburn told VOA on Monday, "We are proceeding with the Combined Flying Training Event as planned." "There are no plans to skip upcoming combined exercises," Eastburn added.
If there was never any talk between the allies about scrapping the joint drill, it is a mystery why the Defense Ministry here would lie about it, since it was only a matter of time before it was found out.
Last year, Vigilant Ace was canceled after U.S. President Donald Trump announced the suspension of large-scale joint drills after his first summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore. The South Korean Air Force and the USFK then did conduct their own aerial drills separately last December.
This is the second time this year that South Korea and the U.S. have bafflingly sought to camouflage their joint drills by giving them a less martial name.
The first time flopped since North Korea seemed less interested in the name than the two allies for some reason believed. The Freedom Guardian drills were first renamed "Alliance 19-2" after the year and sequential number, but even then there was some hand-wringing about the "Alliance" part, and North Korea still protested vociferously.
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