Just a day after complaining about South Korea’s agreement to a no-fly zone, the pentagon has announced they are cancelling the Vigilante Ace exercise with South Korea for 2018. The exercise is a large aerial exercise with over 200 warplanes involved.
US warplanes exercising in South Korea almost always means them making simulated attack runs toward North Korean airspace. The no-fly zone on the Koreas’ common border means that they can no longer do such things, which State Department officials say the US opposes.
Defense Secretary James Mattis downplayed the decision, saying it would have little impact on US military readiness on the Korean Peninsula. The Pentagon added that future exercises may be held in consultation with South Korea.
The US has been holding off on wargames for months now, based on diplomatic progress with North Korea. Officials say they don’t want to be provocative, and wargames based around US bombers tend to raise the most concern from the north, meaning such a cancellation was probably being pushed by South Korea, who wants to secure their diplomatic gains.
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