US, S. Korea officially call off annual military exercises amid nuclear talks with N. Korea
(Stars & Stripes | March 2, 2019) The United States and South Korea canceled key war games in favor of low-profile drills, the allies said Sunday, in a major concession to North Korea days after its nuclear summit with President Donald Trump collapsed without agreement.
The springtime exercises known as Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, along with their autumn counterpart Ulchi Freedom Guardian, have long been the lynchpin of the alliance between Seoul and Washington.
The drills, which include computer simulations and live-fire bombing runs, also have been a touchstone for tensions as the North considers them a rehearsal for an invasion.
The decision to cancel Key Resolve and Foal Eagle had been widely expected after Trump reiterated his own antipathy for the drills, which he has called “very expensive” and “provocative” …
… Last year, the Pentagon said it saved about $14 million with the cancellation of Ulchi Freedom Guardian, which was comparable in size and scope to Foal Eagle and Key Resolve.
Retired Navy Vice Adm. Robert Murrett said small-scale training is insufficient to prepare commanders and troops from both countries to overcome language and other difficulties to fight together if needed.
“That’s a little bit of a Band-Aid, but it doesn’t substitute the larger scale engagement we need to have,” said Murrett, now a Syracuse University professor.
“It’s very serious because I think our capability with respect to the Korean Peninsula is in the process of atrophying at all the levels,” he added.