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Asia Minute: U.S. and South Korean Forces Routinely Train Together

U.S. Army Reserve
U.S. Army Reserve

It’s been two days since North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile. The United States and its allies are considering potential responses.  China and Russia are calling for North Korea to abandon its missile and nuclear weapons programs, in exchange for the U.S. stopping military exercises with South Korea. That’s not likely to happen—and those exercises can involve tens of thousands of forces. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.


The names of some drills resonate with martial force.

Max Thunder.

Key Resolve.

Foal Eagle.

Others are smaller – described by the Pentagon as routine operations—such as the two days of drills the United States, South Korea and Japan held this past March.

That involved three ships equipped with the Aegis radar system designed to intercept ballistic missiles in flight—exactly the kind of delivery system North Korea tested this week.  

In April, about a thousand U.S. service personnel took part in “Max Thunder” joined by about 500 South Korean forces.

Air power was the focus for eleven days including aircraft carriers and fighter jets.

“Key Resolve” is an exercise making use of computer simulation as well as more than 10,000 South Korean military members and nearly 13,000 U.S. forces.

That takes place simultaneously with the biggest annual shared drill. Eight weeks of Foal Eagle –which involves some 17,000 U.S. forces and more than 300,000 South Koreans on land, air and sea.

Apart from joint maneuvers, there is a substantial commitment of U.S. forces stationed in North Asia: with nearly 24,000 in South Korea and more than 39,000 in Japan.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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