January 14, 2022 11:39
Korea and the U.S. are putting off regular joint military exercises for the first half of this year from March to April in consideration of the upcoming presidential election here and the never-ending coronavirus pandemic.
A military source here said on Thursday, "We've had a discussion about the postponement of joint drills considering the presidential election and the spread of COVID-19 within the U.S. Forces Korea."
The two allies usually stage massive joint drills twice a year, in March and August. Last year, they drastically downscaled them by conducting computer-based simulations because of the pandemic.
But COVID-19 is spreading among American troops even though they are all fully vaccinated. Some 1,599 American soldiers tested positive between Jan. 4 and 10. A total of 4,626 American soldiers have been infected so far, taking up a significant 16.5 percent of all 28,000 American troops stationed here.
"More COVID cases have occurred among American troops here than among all 550,000 Korean soldiers, where cases stood at about 3,500," a government official said. "American troops, as well as Korean soldiers of the Combined Forces Command, are so scared of COVID that they are canceling meetings and appointments."
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