U.S. and South Korea cancels major military exercise
- October 21, 2018
The United States and South Korea suspended another major joint military exercise.
The top Pentagon spokeswoman, Dana White, said Washington and Seoul were suspending an air exercise known as Vigilant Ace “to give the diplomatic process every opportunity to continue”.
It was the latest move aimed at trying to nudge North Korea, which despises such US-South Korean exercises, into negotiating about giving up its nuclear weapons in a way that can be verified.
Vigilant Ace is an annual exercise last held in December 2017.
Last year’s version of Vigilant Ace lasted about one week and involved more than 200 aircraft from the U.S. and South Korea flying from eight bases. The stated purpose, as with most such maneuvers between the U.S. and its allies, is to ensure that the two militaries can operate together effectively and safely in wartime and to deter an adversary like North Korea.
Senior U.S. military officials have said they have ways of adjusting to limited suspensions of exercises with South Korea but that at some point the lack of exercising the procedures involved in commanding and controlling combat forces will erode their preparedness for war.
The nominee to take over as the top American commander in South Korea, Army Gen. Robert Abrams, said at his Senate confirmation hearing in September the suspensions this year had contributed to a “slight” dip in combat readiness.