Korea to start annual defense drill next week
Korea's military will launch a large-scale annual exercise across the country next week to bolster its defense posture against North Korean threats, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said Thursday.
The annual "Hoguk Exercise" will take place from Oct. 25 to Nov. 2, with the participation of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the Marine Corps as well as government officials and police officers, the JCS said.
About 500 U.S. troops will also take part in the drills for interoperability between the forces of the two allies, it said.
"This year's exercise expanded in size in a bid to foster joint combat capabilities to prepare for provocations by North Korea and an all-out war, considering the recent security situations," the JCS said in a statement.
Pyongyang has stepped up its harsh rhetoric against South Korea and the U.S. after Seoul announced a new arms deal with Washington earlier this month under which it can extend the range of its missiles from the present 300 kilometers to 800 km.
That distance is long enough to strike any part of the North. The communist nation denounced the agreement as part of a U.S.-led plot to invade the country.
Hoguk replaced the Team Spirit exercise in 1996 and has focused on fostering joint capabilities among all service branches.
The Koreas remain technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice. About 28,500 U.S. soldiers are stationed here to deter against the North Korean threat.