SEOUL – South Korea and the United States are to begin two of their largest joint military exercises, called Foal Eagle and Key Resolve, the United States Forces Korea (USFK) announced on Tuesday.
The USFK said that Key Resolve, which will be held from March 2-13, is a simulation exercise to respond to any potential event on the peninsula, referring to a possible attack by the North Korean regime.
Foal Eagle will take place until April 24 and will include several ground exercises by the joint forces of Seoul and Washington.
U.S. forces in South Korea stressed in a statement that they have informed the Pyongyang regime of the dates and the non-provocative nature of both military drills that will take place in South Korea.
But the allies expect a tough response from North Korea, which every year vigorously protests the exercises.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s regime strongly criticizes the U.S. military presence in South Korea and considers the maneuvers to be a trial run for an invasion.
Last year, North Korea responded with bombast and missile tests.
In 2013, Pyongyang reacted with an unusually harsh campaign of threats and hostilities, escalating tension to the point that some observers feared the possibility of war.
According to the Ministry of National Defense in Seoul, the United States this year will increase the number of troops that will participate in the two joint military exercises without revealing the exact number of troops.
Last year, Key Resolve mobilized around 10,000 South Korean soldiers and 5,200 Americans, while 200,000 and 7,500 respectively participated in the Foal Eagle drill.
The United States maintains 28,500 soldiers in South Korea and has pledged to defend it in the event of conflict with North Korea.