Published: Sat, October 20, 2018

Pentagon: US-South Korea Military War Game Exercises on Hold for Now

Pentagon: US-South Korea Military War Game Exercises on Hold for Now

The suspending another military exercise with South Korea to aid negotiations over North Korea's nuclear program that President Donald Trump has said should "soon" result in another summit with Kim Jong Un.

The top Pentagon spokeswoman, Dana W. White, said Washington and Seoul are suspending an air exercise known as Vigilant Ace "to give the diplomatic process every opportunity to continue".

"Both ministers are committed to modifying training exercises to ensure the readiness of our forces".

Last year's version of Vigilant Ace lasted about one week and involved more than 200 aircraft from the USA and South Korea flying from eight bases.

Mr. Trump also had taken direct aim at the drill, saying it was unnecessarily provocative toward North Korea and too expensive for US taxpayers.

Occurring just days after North Korea's successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the east coast of the United States, North Korea blasted the exercise as being a provocation.

Mattis told reporters on August 28 that there were no plans to cancel further exercise in South Korea; however, the USA government had not yet decided whether to hold the Foal Eagle and Ulchi Freedom Guardian wargames in 2019. But lower-level training operations between the two allies have continued apace.

According to a statement by spokesperson Dana White on Friday, . the decision was reached by South Korea's Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and his USA counterpart James Mattis to give the ongoing diplomatic process with North Korea "every opportunity to continue".

Vigilant Ace is an annual exercise last held in December 2017.

Vigilant Ace is primarily an air-combat exercise in which fighter jets from both countries come together and fly in various scenarios.

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. Besides, the President can instantly start the joint exercises again with South Korea, and Japan, if he so chooses.

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On the heels of President Trump's landmark summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in June, the Pentagon scrapped the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise, one of the largest joint drills between the US and South Korea.

Earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Kim in Pyongyang, and also with leaders in South Korea and China to discuss nuclear disarmament in North Korea.

Trump's relationship with Kim was warmed considerably this year.

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