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Cancellation of single exercise would not affect Korea-US joint posture: defense chief

Defense Minister Jeong Kyeog-doo (Yonhap)
Defense Minister Jeong Kyeog-doo (Yonhap)

Defense Minister Jeong Kyeog-doo has said that the cancellation of a single combined exercise between South Korea and the United States would not affect their joint readiness posture, according to his ministry.

He made the remarks while visiting US National Defense University on Wednesday (Washington time), ahead of an expected announcement by the two sides on the possible modification of their combined exercises slated for March due to concerns over the new coronavirus.

"Different from the past, we are capable of staging exercises in an adjusted manner without affecting our posture by maximizing modernized weapons systems, operational employment systems and the C4I systems," Jeong said in an answer to a question by a student.

C4I means command, control, communications and computers and intelligence systems.

"I don't believe that the cancellation of a single exercise or training weakens the military readiness posture," Jeong said, pointing to what he calls the "staunch and fully developed"

alliance between the two sides,

Earlier, US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said that the allies are "taking a hard look" at the planned exercises to decide "whether or not they continue, postpone or modify."

The possible adjustment comes as South Korea has seen a drastic surge in COVID-19 cases over the past week, with the number of patients surpassing 1,200 as of late Wednesday. So far, 12 have died.

Among South Korean service personnel, 20 cases were reported, and around 9,500 soldiers are currently in quarantine as a preventive step. USFK also saw the first coronavirus patient among its troops on Wednesday, as a 23-year-old man stationed in South Korea's southeastern county of Chilgok tested positive. (Yonhap)