February 13, 2020 10:25
The government here continues a baffling campaign to rename joint drills with the U.S. so as to avoid agitating North Korea.
Early last year, the U.S. and South Korea staged substantial joint drills under the name " Alliance 19-2" that replaced the annual "Key Resolve" exercise.
But officials here labor under the impression that what North Korea really objects to is not the drills themselves but the name, so this year they will be called something else again. "No decision about the name has been made yet, but it seems that the term 'alliance' won't be used," a military spokesman here said Wednesday.
The Pentagon traditionally uses vaguely martial-sounding word salads for all its operations, and "alliance" plus the year and the sequential number was supposed to tone that down.
But someone in the upper echelons here became convinced that North Korea was bristling at the word "alliance" so the second drill last year, which was logically going to be called "Alliance 19-2," was renamed in secret and in the end no official name was announced at all.
There is no evidence that North Korea looks kindly on large-scale military exercises on its doorstep no matter what they are called.
"We're now in a situation where we might have to cancel even a command post exercise that is really more a computer wargame depending on the reaction from the North," a military officer said. "I worry that this could weaken the preparedness of the South Korea-U.S. combined forces."
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