The United States and South Korea are set to announce the immediate suspension of joint military exercises between the two countries following President Donald Trump’s landmark summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, South Korea’s Yonhap News reported on Sunday.

  • Citing a government source, Yonhap’s June 17 report claims that any pause to the large-scale military exercises would include a provision mandating that combined training would resume should North Korea “fail to deliver on its denuclearization commitment.”
  • The fate of the exercises has remained ambiguous amid the new dialogue between the United States and North Korea. Trump had on June 12 announced the end of the “tremendously expensive” and “very provocative” annual drills, but that announcement reportedly caught U.S. Forces Korean and the ROK Republic of Korea Armed Forces by surprise.
  • “In coordination with our ROK [Republic of Korea] partners, we will continue with our current military posture until we receive updated guidance from the Department of Defense and/or Indo-Pacific Command,” a spokeswoman for U.S. Forces Korea told Military Times on June 12 of the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises planned for September that proved a sticking point with North Korea in the run-up to the summit.
  • T&P’s Jeff Schogol reported previously that it remained unclear if the “war games” mentioned by Trump also included regular training exercises between the United States and South Korea, but it seems likely. According to The Diplomat, the U.S. didn’t even deploy the traditional strategic assets like long-range bombers and nuclear-powered warships during this year’s Foal Eagle/Key Resolve exercises back in April.

In the meantime, Yonhap also reported on Sunday that all of South Korea’s maritime forces (plus its Air Force) are gearing up for regular maritime drills “with an aim to better safeguard the country’s easternmost islets of Dokdo” — exercises that will include six warships and seven aircraft. So there’s that too, I guess.

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