US, South Korea War Games Start Monday; Pyongyang Warns of 'Catastrophe'

US, South Korea War Games Start Monday; Pyongyang Warns of 'Catastrophe'

"The drills deal with all the steps involved in a war, of course, towards victory", said Moon Seong-mook, a retired South Korean brigadier who regularly participated in the drills until the mid-2000s. USA and Korean marines participated in the exercise along with soldiers from Australia and New Zealand under the United Nations command.

There will be no field training during the exercise, according to US Forces Korea. They stressed that the exercises would "further drive the situation on the Korean Peninsula into a catastrophe".

Banks of monitors and computer graphics create simulated battlefields, complete with troop movements, according to Park Yong-han, a military expert formerly with the state-run Korea Institute for Defence Analysis.

That focus on the North Korean leadership is what particularly infuriates Pyongyang, experts say.

South Korean television network SBS reported Friday the United States canceled plans to deploy the strategic assets during the drill set to begin next week, and the move is taking place a week after tensions spiked between Washington and Pyongyang.

Tensions escalated in July after Pyongyang conducted two intercontinental ballistic (ICBM) missile tests and claimed the projectiles are capable of reaching the U.S. mainland and carrying a nuclear weapon, an assessment some regional and Western analysts concur with.

This year's Ulchi Freedom Guardian comes in the wake of North Korea's recent ballistic missile flight tests and news reports of that country's purported ability to fit a nuclear warhead onto its missiles.

Change comes following rumors of secret negotiations between US and North KoreaThe number of US troops participating in this year's US-South Korea Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) joint exercise, which will start from August 21, has decreased in comparison to last year. It might push North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un to fire missiles aimed at Guam in the United States.

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