South Korea and the United States are set to launch joint military exercises this week to increase preparedness against emerging threats from North Korea. The annual Ulchi Freedom Shield (UFS) exercise, based on an all-out war scenario, is scheduled for Monday, August 31.
The exercise includes contingency exercises, computer simulation-based command post exercises, concurrent field training, and more. The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) official reports that about 30 allied field training events are scheduled during the exercise period, compared to 25 during this year’s springtime Freedom Shield exercise and 13 in last year’s UFS.
The exercise includes scenarios to train troops for a rapid transition to wartime and respond to false information spread by Pyongyang during wartime or a contingency. US Forces Korea (USFK) will also participate in the exercise, along with personnel from nine United Nations Command (UNC) member countries, including the UK, Australia, Canada, France, Greece, Italy, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Thailand.
The UNC is a major originator of the armistice that halted fighting in the Korean War of 1950–53. The observer of the ceasefire, the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, will also participate in the exercise. South Korea is strengthening its readiness against possible military activities, such as ballistic missile launches by Pyongyang, during the exercise period.
North Korea has long accused the allies’ military drills of being rehearsals for an invasion, with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un recently touting a “huge increase” in the country’s missile production capacity and “aggressive” war contingency preparations.