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Major US-South Korean exercise starts Monday

A South Korean soldier provides over-watch during training with members of 498th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 501st Sustainment Brigade near Busan, South Korea, Aug. 19, 2011. The units trained together during Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2011.

SEOUL, South Korea — U.S. Forces Korea and the South Korean military will kick off their annual late summer Ulchi Freedom Guardian drill beginning Monday, according to a spokesman for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise, along with Key Resolve and Foal Eagle in the spring, are the largest joint drills held each year in the South, usually involving tens of thousands of troops.

This year’s UFG will run Aug. 18 through the 28th or 29th, the JCS spokesman said Thursday.

USFK has not announced the dates for the computer-simulated war games yet; the spokesman said an official announcement from the U.S. and South Korea would likely be issued on Monday.

North Korea, which views the exercise as preparation for an invasion, typically responds with some sort of threat or warning.

The North fired rockets off its coast on Thursday, although the JCS spokesman said the reason was unclear. There is some speculation that the rockets might have been in response to Pope Francis’ arrival in South Korea.

rowland.ashley@stripes.com

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