(Photo: Korea Time)
South Korea and the United States will launch the delayed joint annual war games next month, Seoul's defense ministry said Tuesday.
The scale and period of the military drills, which the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has denounced as a rehearsal for northward invasion, were expected to be small and short amid the rising detente on the Korean Peninsula, according to local media reports.
The Foal Eagle field training exercise will continue for about a month from April 1, while the Key Resolve command post exercise would reportedly last for some two weeks from April 23. A detailed schedule for the Key Resolve drill has not been made known to the local media outlets yet.
The U.S. forces will mobilize the similar number of troops to this year's springtime wargames with last year's, but it is not known how many South Korean soldiers will participate in the drills. Last year, South Korea mobilized around 300,000 troops to the Foal Eagle.
The Foal Eagle will last for a month in 2018, shorter than some two months during which the field training exercise was carried out in 2017.
The Foal Eagle and the Key Resolve, expected to be shorter in period and smaller in scale, would come amid signs of a detente on the Korean Peninsula following the DPRK's participation in the South Korea-hosted winter sports event.
The DPRK had sent its athletes, cheerleaders, artists and political delegations to the 23rd Winter Olympics held in February at South Korea's east county of PyeongChang. The DPRK para-athletes also joined the Winter Paralympics that ended on Sunday.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to delay the Foal Eagle and the Key Resolve during the Winter Olympic and Paralympic periods to make the winter games a peace Olympic.
While the Winter Games were going on, South Korea and the DPRK traded special envoys to Seoul and Pyongyang, agreeing to hold the third inter-Korean summit in late April at Peace House, a South Korean building in the truce village of Panmunjom.
Trump also said he would meet Kim Jong Un, top DPRK leader, by May to achieve a permanent denuclearization.
US strategic weapons, such as a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear bombs, would not be openly mobilized for this year's war games, according to Yonhap news agency report. In the past, nuclear-capable submarines and stealth jets as well as aircraft carriers and bombers all participated in the drills.
The South Korean defense ministry reportedly informed the DPRK counterpart of schedules for the joint war games through the restored military hotline in the west region. The hotline was reopened on Jan. 10 after high-level inter-Korean talks were resumed the previous day.