US and South Korean military units will begin the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise Monday, the Defense Department announced today.
The protesters from 200 civic groups, mostly workers, and liberal activists, urged the government to stop the joint military drills with the US and cancel the THAAD deployment to the country, saying those military measures will provoke North Korea more and increase tensions in the region.
These drills are an annual exercise, and we don't really need them to prepare for military eventualities.
Ulchi Freedom Guardian is a computer-simulated defensive exercise created to enhance readiness, protect the region and maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula, defense officials said.
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The UFG drill is a command post exercise, which does not involve field training operations.
In a statement, the U.S. said that 17,500 of its service members would take part in the exercise along with troops from allied nations Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Britain from August 21 to 31. In addition to the ROK and USA forces, UN Command forces from seven sending states, including Australia, Canada, Columbia, Denmark, New Zealand, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, will participate in this UFG. In 2014, during a different military exercise, the North fired Scud missiles in protest.
Tensions have risen after North Korea conducted two missile tests in July which, like its five atomic bomb tests, were carried out in defiance of worldwide pressure and United Nations resolutions.
North Korea has already released a statement regarding the announced exercise through the Central News Agency.