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U.S. carrier reportedly to join Key Resolve/Foal Eagle exercise

SEOUL — A U.S. aircraft carrier will participate in the annual Key Resolve/Foal Eagle exercise that begins later this month, according to Korean media reports.

U.S. Forces Korea announced Tuesday that the exercise will kick off Feb. 28.

Nearly 13,000 U.S. troops and more than 200,000 South Korean troops will participate in the drills, the first regularly scheduled exercise since North Korea bombarded a South Korean island in November, according to South Korean and U.S. defense officials.

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South Korean media reported that a U.S. aircraft carrier would participate in the exercise, although USFK and South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense would not confirm those reports Tuesday.

U.S. aircraft carriers have participated in combined exercises with South Korea in the past year despite opposition from China and North Korea.

USFK commander Gen. Walter Sharp said in a statement that the exercise would include “a number of realistic scenarios beyond defeating a conventional attack.”

“Through these scenarios, we will exercise alliance crisis management, deterring and rapidly defeating provocations and defensive operations,” he said in the statement. USFK spokesman David Oten would not discuss what specific scenarios would be rehearsed in the drills.

Key Resolve is a computer-based simulation and runs through March 10. Foal Eagle is the field training portion of the exercise, and will continue through April 30.

Approximately 10,500 U.S. troops will participate in Foal Eagle. Another 2,300 U.S. troops, including 500 from outside the peninsula, will participate in Key Resolve, Oten said.

Two major incidents in the past year have further soured relations between the Koreas. Forty-six South Korean sailors died after the warship Cheonan was sunk by a North Korean torpedo last year while on routine patrol of waters near the disputed maritime border, and two civilians and two South Korean marines died when the North shelled Yeonpyeong Island. North Korea has denied any involvement in the Cheonan sinking, and said it shelled Yeonpyeong in response to a South Korean military drill being held there.

The United Nations Command informed North Korea of the exercise dates and that the exercise would be defensive in nature, according to the USFK statement.

rowlanda@pstripes.osd.mil

Translator Yoo Kyong Chang contributed to this story.

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