South Korea, U.S. Joint Drill Has New Name, “Ulchi Freedom Shield”

The South Korean military plans to resume regiment-level or larger-scale live field training, during its joint exercises with the U.S.

This comes as the allies are getting ready to kick off their annual summertime exercises next month.

This kind of large-scale field training had been scaled back to lower tensions with Pyeongyang, since June 2018, when then-U.S. President Donald Trump held a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

From August to September, along with computer-simulated drills, South Korea and the U.S. will conduct 11 joint field exercises, including one at brigade level.

Starting next year, the field exercises will be conducted at an even larger scale.

The joint drill also has a new name “Ulchi Freedom Shield” signalling a revival of the “Ulchi Freedom Guardian” drills that were held until 2017.

Seoul’s defense ministry also plans to speed up the deployment of its artillery interception system, designed to counter North Korea’s long-range guns and rockets.

South Korea had earlier announced that it will develop a system similar to Israel’s “Iron Dome” to protect its capital area, home to about half the country’s population.

“We will quickly develop systems that can effectively intercept when North Korea fires a mix of missiles and long-range artillery attacks.”

The country’s arms procurement agency had said that it will complete the development by 2029, but President Yoon had earlier pledged to deploy the system by 2026.

After being briefed on the country’s key defense policy plans, President Yoon urged officials to create a missile defense system that offers “airtight and effective” protection.

He also called on technology-based defense reforms, as the ministry works on incorporating artificial intelligence into the military.

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