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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. B.B. Bell thanked participants in two recent exercises for their “hard work and personal sacrifice.”

Bell, also head of the Combined Forces Command and the United Nations Command, released the message to his troops Tuesday.

About 25,000 U.S. troops — 20,000 in South Korea and about 5,000 off-peninsula — took part in this year’s March 25-31 Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration and Foal Eagle exercises. The South Korean Ministry of National Defense would not disclose how many South Korean forces participated.

This year marked the 45th Foal Eagle exercise and only the fifth time it has been combined with RSOI, first held in 1994.

“Planning and conducting complex exercises requires focused, committed effort,” Bell wrote. “I greatly appreciate the hard work you put into these events, making them premier training exercises.”

RSOI focuses on honing combined U.S. and South Korean forces’ ability to receive and integrate forces from outside the country, officials have said. Foal Eagle stages select war-fighting training events. It focuses on rear-area security and stability operations and movement of critical assets.

“You demonstrated we have the capability to rapidly bring reinforcing units into this theater and move/sustain all forces that might engage in combat,” Bell wrote. “I also want to especially acknowledge and thank our great [Republic of Korea] partners.” When the two nations demonstrate “effective and efficient” RSOI capability, he said, it “presents a very credible deterrence to North Korea” — which in turn helps ensure regional peace and stability.

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