S Korea, US to begin marine exercise from Nov 5

S Korea, US to begin marine exercise from Nov 5

Seoul, Nov 5: South Korea and the United States will resume battalion-level marine exercises that have been suspended as part of efforts to help facilitate a detente with North Korea, Seoul military officials said.

The two marine forces will begin joint training lasting two weeks around the southeastern port city of Pohang on Monday. It will involve 500 troops from the South Korean Marine Corps and the US III Marine Expeditionary Force stationed in Okinawa.

The Korea Marine Exercise Program (KMEP) exercise has been suspended for six months since May as the two countries engaged in diplomacy with North Korea, said yonhap in a report. The allies had planned to carry out 19 rounds of KMEP training in 2018 fiscal year but only 11 were conducted.

"The KMEP will start from November in accordance with the South Korea-US annual plan," a Marine official said. "It is an annual tactical combined forces training aimed at maintaining our joint defense posture."

This year, the two sides have suspended major military exercises, including the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises over the summer and the Vigilant Ace air drill slated for December.

They will decide on the fate of next year's large-scale exercises before Dec. 1 after a working-level review, South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said on Oct. 31 following the annual Security Consultative Meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis in Washington. (UNI)