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South Korea, U.S. to begin special military drills this week

SEOUL, April 8 (UPI) — South Korean forces and the U.S. Special Operations Command are set to begin combined training this week, as part of their regular exercises aimed at deterring military threats from North Korea.

According to a Seoul army official Monday, the South Korean army and navy will begin training with the United States Special Operations Command on confidential land and sea missions, No Cut News reported.

The official said the training is a regular exercise between the two allies and the navy’s Underwater Demolition Team has already begun drills in southern waters.

The allied forces are expected to conduct drills to simulate the infiltration and removal major missile sites and other crucial facilities in North Korea.

However, exercises aimed to remove the North Korean leadership is known to have been excluded from the training, News 1 reported.

Last year, the U.S. Navy SEALS took part in the exercise where they practiced removing the enemy’s leadership and infiltrating underground tunnels.

Also on Monday, the South Korean military confirmed it cancelled the ‘Soaring Eagle’ air combat exercise, after an F-15K jet crash last week.

The exercise, which has been conducted twice a year since 2008, simulates war with North Korea, aiming to enhance capabilities to shoot down enemy missiles and strike core military facilities.

However, the air force said it will resume its two-week Max Thunder drills with the United States from May, as scheduled.

The annual training was not included in the Foal Eagle exercise this spring, as the large-scale exercise was reduced to a month ahead of South Korea and the United States’ respective summits with North Korea.

On Sunday, the two allies wrapped up their weeklong Ssangyong marine amphibious landing drill, which was performed as part of Foal Eagle.

The United States deployed various assets including the USS Wasp, a multipurpose amphibious assault ship, which carried F-35B stealth fighter jets.

It also deployed another vessel of the same glass, the USS Bonhomme Richard.

The annual exercise is held to maintain military readiness between the two allies, and mobilizes more than 10,000 American marines and thousands of South Korean troops.

However, the military, this year, did not disclose the scale of the participating troops nor did it allow media coverage of the exercise, seemingly mindful of the upcoming inter-Korean summit.

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