South Korean marines stand in formation during the Ssangyong Exercise in Pohang, South Korea, March 29, 2023.

South Korean marines stand in formation during the Ssangyong Exercise in Pohang, South Korea, March 29, 2023. (David Choi/Stars and Stripes)

CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — U.S. and South Korean forces will kick off another round of large-scale military exercises next week with over 30 separate drills, military officials said Monday.

Ulchi Freedom Shield Exercise will commence Aug. 21 for 10 days, U.S. Forces Korea spokesman Army Col. Isaac Taylor and South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman army Col. Lee Sung-jun told reporters in Seoul.

The exercise is named after Eulji Mundeok, a Korean general who led his troops against forces of the Chinese Sui dynasty in the seventh century.

The exercise will include service members from all military branches training “to counter the advancing threats from North Korea,” according to Lee.

“Our military will resolutely respond and prepare for future situations and endeavor for an enhanced readiness posture,” Lee said.

Taylor described the exercise as “routine training.”

Both spokesmen declined to describe the exercise in detail, including what scenarios the troops will be undertaking and how many of them will be taking part.

The allied nations resumed large exercises last year with Ulchi Freedom Shield and the 11-day Freedom Shield Exercise in March after South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol took office in May 2022.

The exercises, once a regular feature on the Korean Peninsula, were paused during former President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s tenure in 2017, when the two presidents negotiated for North Korea’s denuclearization with its leader, Kim Jong Un.

Yoon and President Biden have resumed the exercises and boosted their military partnership in the wake of North Korea’s weapon tests.

In July, the nuclear-capable ballistic missile submarine USS Kentucky made a stop in Busan, South Korea’s largest port, for the first time in 42 years to show the alliance’s “overwhelming capabilities and readiness,” the Ministry of National Defense said in a press release.

Prior to the Kentucky’s visit, the allies in March also conducted Warrior Shield, the largest field exercise in six years between the two countries, with roughly 1,200 troops at sites as close as 16 miles from the border with North Korea. 

The U.S. and South Korea in March also held the Ssangyong Exercise, a series of maritime drills involving over 30 ships, 70 aircraft and roughly 50 amphibious assault vessels. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force also sent a destroyer for two days of naval exercises with South Korea and the U.S. after Ssangyong concluded.

In North Korea, Kim on Monday toured a weapons factory and called for the regime to boost its missile production, North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency reported that day.

North Korea has fired 17 ballistic missiles in 12 separate days of testing so far this year, including a solid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile on July 12

The communist regime last fired two short-range ballistic missiles from Pyongyang that flew roughly 340 miles before landing in the Sea of Japan, or East Sea, on July 19.

David Choi is based in South Korea and reports on the U.S. military and foreign policy. He served in the U.S. Army and California Army National Guard. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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