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U.S., South Korea Begin Annual Large-Scale Exercises

By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity

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WASHINGTON, March 7, 2016 — U.S. and South Korean troops today began their annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises, which Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said are conducted to maintain South Korea’s preparedness.

The exercises also will include troops from United Nations Command mission nations Australia, Canada, Denmark, France and Great Britain, Davis told reporters.

DoD officials said about 7,700 American and 10,000 South Korean troops will participate in the exercises.

“As you know, we continue to ask [North Korea] to refrain from provocative actions and statements that only serve to aggravate tensions,” Davis said. “We closely monitor activities [in North Korea], and we’re always ready to act in support of our Republic of Korea allies.”

Defensive Exercises

The exercises are “purely defensive,” Davis said. “Certainly, any statements that imply hostile offensive action by North Korea are not only unhelpful, … they’re contrary to … what we’re doing,” he added.

Both exercises involve air, ground, naval and special operations support, Davis said, noting that Key Resolve is a command-post exercise and that Foal Eagle is focused on field training.

THAAD Talks Move Forward

Based on North Korea’s evolving threats, the United States and South Korea have agreed to look at the South Korea’s missile defense posture and the feasibility of U.S. Forces Korea operating a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, officials reported last month. Following a recent formal agreement signing, the formal THAAD consultations are expected to begin soon, Davis said today.

THAAD provides the ballistic missile defense system with a globally transportable, rapidly deployable capability to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles inside or outside the atmosphere during its final phase of flight, according to DoD’s Missile Defense Agency website.

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)