WASHINGTON, The upcoming joint air force exercise with South Korea and Japan is routine training that is held “very frequently” and is aimed at enhancing their joint defense capability, a U.S. Department of Defense official said Friday.
Department spokesman John Kirby also said the joint drill will highlight the importance of trilateral cooperation between the United States, Japan and South Kora.
“I’m not going to comment on the reaction by North Korean officials. I would simply add that this is an exercise that we conduct very frequently,” the spokesman said in a press briefing.
His remark came one day after a North Korean propaganda outlet denounced South Korea’s decision to take part in the annual multinational air force exercise, Red Flag, to be held in Alaska.
Seoul earlier said it will send dozens of planes and some 100 troops to take part in the military drill, slated to be held June 10-25.
Kirby said about 300 foreign troops, including those from South Korea and Japan, will take part in this year’s Red Flag exercise.
Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, commander of U.S. Pacific Air Forces, has said the exercise “shouldn’t be seen as anything other than routine training.”
“It is not, in any way, meant to be escalatory to the region or destabilizing to the region,” he said in a telephonic conference Friday (local time) with journalists in the region.
Kirby highlighted the importance of the upcoming joint military drills as it will involve both South Korea and Japan for the first time in more than two years.
“You have heard the secretary talk about the importance of trilateral cooperation when he visited Japan and South Korea not too long ago, so this is an example of that,” said the spokesman, referring to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s visits to Seoul and Tokyo in March.
“One of the things that he talked about in both places was the importance of trilateral cooperation, and these aren’t just partners. These are allies of the United States. And so he always wants to look for ways to improve alliance interoperability and capability, and this exercise will provide us an opportunity to do that,” he added.
Source: Yonhap News Agency