Top US commanders visit S. Korea to observe joint military exercises

UN chief warns against military action on North Korea calls for diplomacy

US Department of Defence said the Ulchi Freedom Guardian drill is a computer simulated defensive exercise created to enhance readiness and maintain stability on the Korean peninsula.

This morning (Monday), the United States and South Korea began their joint military exercise amid threats from North Korea.

"North Korea should recognize that the vicious cycle of conducting ROK - U.S. combined defensive drills has been repeating due to the North's continuous provocations".

"It's to prepare if something big were to occur and we needed to protect ROK", said Michelle Thomas, a USA military spokeswoman, referring to South Korea by its official name, the Republic of Korea. -South Korea joint military exercises in exchange for the suspension of the DPRK's further provocation, in a bid to open talks for the denuclearized Korean Peninsula.

South Korea's new top military officer yesterday issued a stern warning to the North, saying it will face merciless retaliation for any attack, reported Yonhap.

"Australia followed the USA to the Korean war, the Vietnamese war and the war on terrorism, but heavy loss of lives and assets were all that it got in return".

While the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian exercises are primarily computerized simulations, thousands of troops normally participate. Russian Federation has also asked for the drills to stop but the United States has not backed down.

Strategic assets, including a USA strategic bomber, may not be deployed as originally planned for the upcoming Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises. He told reporters fewer troops were needed because of integrating some roles and emphasizing command post operations. They also note that the lion's share of the USA forces come from those stationed in South Korea and that the number of soldiers coming from outside of Korea increased to 3,000 from 2,500 a year ago.

Japan also plans to introduce a "space unit" to "protect satellites that Japan and the United States rely on to detect North Korean missile launches", the paper adds.

Last year, the North test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile two days after the start of the Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills, which was soon followed by a fifth nuclear test on the September 9 anniversary of the establishment of the government.

"The numbers (of troops) are by design to achieve the exercise objectives, and you always pick what you want to emphasize", Mattis said. So far the US and South Korea have rejected this idea.

United Nations command confirmed to NK News that both are scheduled to observe UFG.

But some analysts suggested it could be another step towards de-escalating tensions that skyrocketed as North Korea and US President Donald Trump lobbed threats at each other in a war of words.

Kim Jong-un has threatened to fire missiles at the island of Guam, where the United States has its foothold in the Pacific Ocean - a key strategic location.

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