With most of the joint US-South Korea military exercises in the past
year cancelled or scaled back to try to prevent harming diplomatic
efforts, the South Koreans are hoping to keep things substantially
dialed down for 2019 as well.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry says they are proposing that all 2019 joint exercises be smaller than usual. Not only would they be smaller, some of the exercises would be replaced with computer simulations.
US officials have so far supported the idea that the exercises be kept small so as not to harm the diplomatic process. Officials, however, have also threatened to escalate those exercises to punish North Korea for not being fast enough in denuclearization, so it’s not clear what their reaction will be to South Korea’s proposal.
Deals between the two Koreas virtually oblige South Korea to keep the wargames limited, if not halted outright. Even if the US opposes the idea, South Korea might insist that the US accept these plans.
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