SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States are supposed to stage combined outdoor military drills throughout the year, not during specific periods of time, Seoul's defense ministry said Tuesday.
Ministry spokesperson Boo Seung-chan made the remarks in an answer to a reporter's question about when and how the two sides would stage joint real maneuvers this year as their ongoing springtime exercise does not include such outdoor programs.
"After the summit between the U.S. and North Korea in Singapore in June 2018, South Korea and the U.S. have adjusted combined exercises to support diplomatic efforts for the denuclearization of and the establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula," Boo told a regular briefing.
"As part of such efforts, it is our principle that outdoor drills are supposed to be conducted evenly all the year round, rather than intensively during specific times," he added.
Since 2019, their major combined exercises, which usually take place twice a year, have not included outdoor drills.
On Tuesday, Seoul and Washington kicked off their springtime computer-simulated Combined Command Post Training (CCPT), which is to run through March 18.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said that the exercise involves a "minimum level of troops" and that no outdoor drills will take place. It is out of "consideration of related factors comprehensively," such as the COVID-19 situation and peace efforts with North Korea.
The two countries conducted a total of 172 joint training sessions in South Korea last year, down from 191 in 2019, according to the data by the ministry.
Pyongyang has long denounced such drills as a rehearsal for invasion and demanded a halt to the programs. It has not made any official responses to the ongoing exercise until now.
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