July 05, 2021 14:11
The U.S. has made it clear that joint military drills with South Korea will go ahead as planned next month, rebuffing calls from politicians here to postpone them in order to woo North Korea back to talks.
Pentagon spokesperson John Supple told Radio Free Asia last Friday, "There has been no change to the schedule of our planned training event."
"Military readiness is a top priority of the secretary of defense. Our combined military training events are a principal method of ensuring our combined alliance readiness," he added.
"These training events are non-provocative, defensive in nature, and are intended to maintain alliance readiness to ensure we are ready to 'fight tonight' in order to keep Americans and the people of Korea safe."
Gen. Paul LaCamera, the new commander of the U.S. Forces Korea, also emphasized combat readiness in a speech during a change-of-command ceremony at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province last Friday.
"Being ready to fight tonight means maintaining combat capability, creating time and space to enable the diplomatic process, thus preserving options for leaders."
But South Korean military authorities are still trying to wrangle a reduction in scope or scale. "I understand that the joint drills will highly likely be conducted for about 10 days from Aug. 16 without any field maneuvers," a military source said.
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