The joint US-South Korean exercises scheduled for March will be largest military drills ever staged on the Korean Peninsula and are both a warning to Pyongyang and an effort to reassure the jittery public in the South. The parallel Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises are scheduled to commence on March 7, with the field-training exercises that make up Foal Eagle lasting until April 30. The drills will involve 15,000 US troops, twice the number of previous years, and will serve to demonstrate Washington’s firepower.

The US will deploy a combat aviation brigade to South Korea for the duration of the maneuvers, as well as a mobile US Marine brigade, an aircraft carrier and its attendant fleet, a nuclear-powered submarine and aerial tankers to refuel fighter aircraft.  South Korea will commit some 290,000 personnel, including special forces, more than double its usual deployment for the annual drills. The joint exercises will commence just weeks after North Korea carried out its fifth underground nuclear test and launched a rocket in what analysts claim was a disguised test of long-range ballistic missile technology.  READ MORE