South Korea and the US have commenced a scaled-back joint military exercise amid the Covid-19 pandemic situation.

The ‘computer-simulated command post exercise’ will take place over nine days in South Korea, reported media sources citing Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

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JCS stated that South Korea and the US decided to move further with the drills after ‘comprehensively taking into consideration the Covid-19 situation, the maintenance of the combat readiness posture, the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of peace’.

Yonhap News Agency reported that the exercises will not include ‘outdoor manoeuvres’.

Furthermore, the number of participating troops and equipment has also been reduced because of the pandemic. All Covid-19 prevention measures, including wearing face masks and hand sanitising, will be followed during the training.

The military drills also provide a chance to assess South Korea’s readiness to take over wartime operational control (OPCON) within the term of the current administration, which ends in May next year.

A defence ministry official was quoted by Yonhap as saying: “The two sides have had close consultations on the matter and agreed to carry out the rehearsal this time, albeit limitedly, to make progress in the transition process.”

The exercises were initially expected to be held last year, but the two parties were not able to do so.