|Korean and U.S. officials participate in the Key Resolve computer-simulated exercise at the Joint Warfighting Simulation Center in Suwon, Friday. (Joint Press Corps)|
A new battle simulation center went into operation to test the combat readiness of South Korean and U.S. forces during their annual drills now in full swing, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Friday.
The JCS unveiled the Joint Warfighting Simulation Center located in Suwon, south of Seoul, as the computer simulated exercise called Key Resolve began on Monday to run through March 21.
The construction of the simulation center, which is now equipped with a communications and networking system, will be completed in early 2014 as part of preparations to regain its wartime operational control from Washington at the end of 2015, the JCS said.
The Key Resolve exercise involves about 10,000 Korean troops and 3,500 American personnel, along with military equipment and weapons, including F-22 stealth fighter jets and B-52 bombers deployed from overseas U.S. bases.
Seoul and Washington say the military exercises are defensive, but Pyongyang routinely denounces them as a rehearsal for a northward invasion.
“In this year’s exercise, South Korean forces play a leading role in exercise planning and preparation, execution and after-action reviews,” Army Col. Kim Yong-hyo, who is in charge of the center, said. “Operation of the war simulation center is part of the preparations for the simulation of war games led by South Korean forces.”
On Friday, the U.S. Forces Korea also unveiled the Korea Battle Simulation Center located in the Yongsan Army Garrison in Seoul.
The center is connected to other war simulation centers across South Korea as well as major bases in the U.S. and Japan through video conferencing and Internet phone systems to support battle simulation training in conjunction with Pacific Theater engagement, the Combined Forces Command said.
About 28,500 American forces are stationed in South Korea as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice agreement.
Ahead of the joint drills, Pyongyang threatened to cancel the Armistice Agreement and to cut the hotline between the two countries, but Seoul said the mutual agreement cannot be unilaterally canceled. The North cut the Red Cross line on Monday as the joint forces went ahead with their drills. (Yonhap News)