US, S.Korea to begin joint military drill on Mon.; N.Korea provocations possible

The United States and South Korea are poised to begin their regular joint military exercise on Monday, with large-scale field training set to resume. But this may prompt North Korea to act provocatively.

The 11-day Freedom Shield exercise will take place on the assumption of a Korean Peninsula emergency. It will be the first spring drill of its kind since South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol took office last May.

The exercise will see major field training resume for the first time in five years. It was suspended under the administration of former President Moon Jae-in.

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reports that the exercise will involve about 20 kinds of training, including amphibious landing.

It adds that the exercise may proceed concurrently with the deployment of a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and submarine to waters near the Korean Peninsula.

The South Korean military says it will further reinforce its response capabilities through the exercise that will reflect North Korea's advanced nuclear and missile development, as well as the changing security environment.

North Korea has strongly protested the exercise and suggested it might respond provocatively if the drill goes ahead.

The Sunday edition of the Korean Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun reports that an enlarged meeting of the party's Central Military Commission adopted important practical steps for making more effective, powerful and offensive use of the war deterrent of the country.

South Korea's intelligence agency said on Tuesday that North Korea is expected to stage large-scale military exercises in March and April.

The agency added that the exercises could entail Pyongyang's first-ever launch of a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile. Solid fuel enables quicker launches of missiles compared to conventional liquid fuel.