S Korea, US to hold exercise against N Korea

SEOUL, Feb. 22 (MNA) – South Korea and the United States will hold a joint exercise in California this week to boost their combined deterrence capabilities against North Korea, the South Korean Defense Ministry said Monday.

The annual tabletop exercise led by the allies' Deterrence Strategy Committee (DSC) will begin Wednesday at Vandenverg Air Force Base for a three-day run, according to the ministry.

Deputy Minister for National Defense Policy Ryu Je-seung will represent South Korea in the discussion-based exercise, which will gather together some 40 defense and foreign affairs officials from the two countries.

The US side will be co-headed by Elaine Bunn, the Defense Department's deputy assistant secretary for nuclear and missile defense policy, and Abraham Denmark, deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia.

"The DSC will continue to build on the allies' five key sectors -- decision-making, planning, command and control, training and capacity building - in order to boost the alliance's deterrence and counteraction capabilities," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said the "upcoming exercise will delve into how serious North Korea's nuclear and missile threats are and how to counter them in a series of actual combat scenarios."

The officials will also conduct on-site inspections of US "extended deterrence" military assets, according to the statement.

The upcoming exercise will be the fifth iteration. The allies have conducted it annually since the establishment of the Extended Deterrence Policy Committee in 2011.

Last year, the countries integrated the committee with their Counter Missile Capability Committee to launch the DSC as part of efforts to boost their deterrence and counteraction capabilities against North Korea.

In the face of North Korea's advancing nuclear and missile activities, Seoul and Washington have expanded the scale of their anti-North military exercises this year with their annual spring military drills expected to reach the largest scale ever.

On Jan. 6, North Korea conducted its forth nuclear test, which it said was a hydrogen bomb detonation, followed by a long-range rocket launch a month later, which Seoul and its allies denounced as a long-range missile test.




News Code 114646


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