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SEOUL: South Korea yesterday kicked off an annual, large-scale military exercise aimed at countering threats from North Korea at a time of heightened cross-border tensions.
The week-long military manoeuvres will involve 240,000 army, navy, air force and marine corps personnel, along with police officers, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
About 500 US soldiers will also take part in the exercise, which Pyongyang had condemned in the past as tantamount to “a war of aggression”.
Some 28,500 US personnel are stationed in the South -- a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended with a ceasefire but not a peace treaty, leaving the two Koreas still technically at war.
This year’s Hoguk exercise has been enlarged “to prepare for provocations by North Korea and an all-out war, considering the recent security situations,” the JCS said. It will feature drills against infiltration, regional provocation as well as full-scale conflict.
With South Korea gearing up for a presidential election in December, tensions on the Korean peninsula have risen steadily in recent months.
Pyongyang was particularly enraged by a recent US-South Korea agreement to almost triple the range of the South’s missile systems to 800km to cover the whole of North Korea.AFP