SEOUL– South Korea and the United States will stage a major springtime combined military exercise starting this week in a scaled-back manner amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said Sunday.

Whether to hold the regular exercise has drawn attention as the unification ministry and some civic groups have called for its adjustment to help move forward the stalled inter-Korean ties. North Korea has long demanded a halt to such joint maneuvers.

“South Korea and the U.S. decided to conduct the springtime combined exercise from March 8 for nine days, after comprehensively taking into consideration the COVID-19 situation, the maintenance of the combat readiness posture, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of peace,” the JCS said in a statement.

The computer-simulated command post exercise (CPX) will not include outdoor drills, as such maneuvers have been carried out throughout the year, and the size of troops and equipment to be involved will be “minimized” due to the pandemic, it added.

Source: Yonhap News Agency