South Korea, US begin annual war gamesAugust 18th, 2008 - 3:48 pm ICT by IANS
Seoul, Aug 18 (DPA) South Korean and US forces started annual military exercises Monday to prepare Seoul to retake wartime command of its forces, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The five-day drills, called Ulchi Freedom Guardian, are aimed at improving interoperability between the two nations’ forces as well as to prepare for Seoul’s takeover of wartime operational control of its forces from Washington in 2012.
South Korea regained peacetime control of its troops in 1994 after transferring control of its troops to the US in 1950 after the outbreak of the Korean War.
It is the first time that the South Korean warfare headquarters is playing such a prominent role in the defensive military drills, which are computer-simulated this year.
The exercise involves 56,000 South Korean troops and 10,000 US soldiers in South Korea and abroad. The US has about 28,000 troops stationed in South Korea as a deterrence against North Korea.
As part of the drill, South Korean President Lee Myung Bak Monday led a meeting of his National Security Council in a secure basement bunker of the presidential Blue House.
North Korea routinely condemns the joint military exercises between the US and South Korea, calling them preparations to invade the communist country.
Tags: chiefs of staff, joint chiefs of staff, military drills, military exercises, national security council, president lee, south korean president, south korean troops, transferring control, wartime command