SEOUL, Feb. 20 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea and the United States will rename their springtime combined Key Resolve exercise and desist from using the Foal Eagle name for their annual field training, a government source in Seoul said Wednesday.
The move appears to be part of efforts to prevent tensions with North Korea amid ongoing peace efforts with the communist state. Pyongyang has long denounced allied exercises as rehearsals for invasion.
The Key Resolve command post exercise will be renamed the “19-1 Exercise,” and focus on bolstering defensive capabilities, the source said on condition of anonymity. This year’s edition is expected to kick off its two-week schedule on March 4.
The name of the Foal Eagle field training exercise, usually scheduled to occur between March and April, will no longer be used. But battalion-level portions of the exercise are expected to proceed as they have been in the past, according to the source.
South Korea’s military first launched the field exercise in 1961. The U.S. military first joined it in 1976, turning it into a combined exercise.
The allies’ military authorities have repeatedly said that they are committed to facilitating ongoing diplomacy to denuclearize North Korea and foster a lasting peace regime on the divided Korean Peninsula.
Last year, Seoul and Washington suspended a set of major exercises, including the summertime Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) exercise and wintertime Vigilant Ace air exercise, though they continued smaller-scale drills to maintain combat readiness.