S.Korea, US to stage massive joint war games

15 August 2010 - 22:06 By Sapa-AFP

US and South Korean troops will stage massive joint war games this week to deter North Korea, despite its threats of retaliation, military officials said Sunday.

About 30,000 US soldiers will take part in the 10-day exercise from Monday, a US military spokesman said, adding an unspecified number of American soldiers based in the United States would join in via computer networks.

Some 56,000 South Korean soldiers will be mobilised for the computerised war games, called “Ulchi Freedom Guardian”, a defence ministry spokesman said.

In a message posted on a US military website, General Walter Sharp, who heads some 28,500 US troops based in the South, described the exercise as “one of the largest joint staff directed theatre exercises in the world.” A separate security drill involving South Korean government officials and soldiers will be held during the period, Yonhap news agency said.

This week’s exercise is one of a series planned by the South — either alone or jointly with the United States — in the aftermath of the sinking of a South Korean warship in March.

The North has angrily denied responsibility for the sinking, which killed 46 sailors and sharply raised tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Last month South Korea and the United States held a massive joint naval and air drill in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) as a show of force against the North.

A week ago South Korea ended its largest-ever anti-submarine drill including live-fire training near the disputed Yellow Sea border.