US, S.Korea to hold regular joint military drills from March 13

The US and South Korean militaries say they will conduct regular joint exercises from March 13. The drills will be held amid mounting concerns over North Korea's escalating military provocations.

Officials from the two militaries said at a news conference on Friday that the Freedom Shield exercises are scheduled to run for 11 days through March 23.

They said the drills will be based on a scenario that reflects North Korea's accelerated nuclear and missile programs and the changing security environments.

Large-scale field drills, including amphibious landing training, are scheduled.

A spokesperson for the South Korean military's Joint Chiefs of Staff noted that capabilities to conduct combined operations will be further strengthened through drills that are suited to local situations.

Officials disclosed on Thursday that South Korea's top military officer, JCS Chairman General Kim Seung-kyum, had observed a joint drill of special commandos carrying out an operation in assumed enemy territory.

The two militaries stressed that they are fully prepared for possible threats from North Korea.

Pyongyang is demanding the suspension of the joint exercises, saying that continued provocative actions could be regarded as a declaration of war.