United States and the Republic of Korea Navy vessels participate in a photo exercise during Exercise Foal Eagle in March 2017.
U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Z.A. Landers
The U.S. and South Korea announced Tuesday that a toned-down version of annual joint military drills would begin April 1 amid a potentially monumental thaw in ties with nuclear-armed North Korea that could see the allies’ two leaders hold separate summits with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
The main Foal Eagle field exercise, which usually lasts two months, is scheduled to begin April 1 and last for a month, while the computer-simulated Key Resolve tabletop drills will be held for two weeks starting in mid-April, a South Korean military official was quoted as saying.
The joint drills had been postponed for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
The large-scale exercises have long been a source of tension between the two Koreas, with Pyongyang condemning them as rehearsals for invasion.
It was unclear if the U.S. would dispatch B-1B heavy bombers, nuclear-powered submarines or aircraft carriers to the drills, but media reports citing a South Korean Defense Ministry official said that there are no immediate plans to do so. The United States has sent such assets during past drills when tensions ran high.
The Pentagon said in a short statement earlier that U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his South Korean counterpart, Song Young-moo, had agreed to go forward with the exercises “at a scale similar to that of previous years.”
It said North Korea’s military had been notified of the “defensive nature” of the drills.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Logan said approximately 12,200 U.S. troops and 10,000 South Korean military personnel would participate in the Key Resolve exercise, while some 11,500 U.S. troops and 290,000 South Korean forces would join the Foal Eagle drills.
Previous years’ exercises also reportedly involved special forces training for so-called decapitation strikes aimed at eradicating the North’s leadership.
Asked if that training would continue, Logan refused comment.
“To avoid compromising exercise objectives, specifics regarding the exercise scenarios will not be discussed,” he said.
However, he stressed that the exercises are “defense-oriented and there is no reason for North Korea to view them as a provocation.”
Logan also said that the exercises “are not conducted in response to any DPRK provocations or the current political situation on the peninsula.” DPRK is the acronym for the North’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Photo: US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
A former sailor who was busted buying firearms with his military discount and then reselling some of them to criminals is proving to be a wealth of information for federal investigators.
Julio Pino used his iPhone to record most, if not all, of his sales, court documents said. He even went so far as to review the buyers' driver's license on camera.
It is unclear how many of Pino's customer's now face criminal charges of their own. Federal indictments generally don't provide that level of detail and Assistant U.S. Attorney William B. Jackson declined to comment.
Carson Thomas, a healthy and fit 20-year-old infantryman who had joined the Army after a brief stint in college, figured he should tell the medics about the pain in his groin he had been feeling. It was Feb. 12, 2012, and the senior medic looked him over and decided to send him to sick call at the base hospital.
It seemed almost routine, something the Army doctors would be able to diagnose and fix so he could get back to being a grunt.
Now looking back on what happened some seven years later, it was anything but routine.
U.S. Army Cpt. Katrina Hopkins and Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Rogers, assigned to Task Force Warhorse, pilot a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during a medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) operation at Camp Taji, Iraq, Dec. 18, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Javion Siders)
U.S. forces must now ask the Iraqi military for permission to fly in Iraqi airspace before coming to the aid of U.S. troops under fire, a top military spokesman said.
However, the mandatory approval process is not expected to slow down the time it takes the U.S. military to launch close air support and casualty evacuation missions for troops in the middle of a fight, said Army Col. James Rawlinson, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.
The soldier who was arrested for taking an armored personnel carrier on a slow-speed police chase through Virginia has been found not guilty by reason of insanity on two charges, according to The Richmond-Times Dispatch.
Joshua Phillip Yabut, 30, entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle — in this case, a 12-ton APC taken from Fort Pickett in June 2018 — and violating the terms of his bond, which stemmed from a trip to Iraq he took in March 2019 (which was not a military deployment).