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The US and South Korea have announced the dates of a joint military exercise off the eastern coast of South Korea. The drill will take place later this month and last for four days.
Dubbed "Invincible Spirit", the joint maneuvers will be held from the 25th to the 28th. Eight thousand Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine personnel will be involved.
The USS George Washington, the United States' only permanent, forward-deployed aircraft carrier, South Korea's naval ship Dokdo and 18 other surface ships and submarines will participate. Approximately 200 Air Force and Navy jets, including the F-22 Raptor will be mobilized.
Both the US and South Korea are determined to demonstrate military might.
General Kim Kyung-Sik, South Korean Navy, said, "We will show off the strongest capabilities in the largest exercise among recent ones. The purpose of this drill is to confirm the strong will of the U.S.-South Korea alliance."
General John McDonald, US Army, said, "By doing it, where we're doing it, we're getting the most training value out of the East Sea. It has strike training that we need to have, some of the ranges around the East coast. It has a capability that we're gonna exercise very thoroughly on that side. So we will have exercises in whichever sea that the ROK and U.S. alliance decide to do, and you'll see that those come in the future."
China's Foreign Ministry has voiced concern that the joint military drill may unsettle the region.
Qin Gang, Spokesman of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said, "China has already expressed a serious concern to the parties involved in this matter. Our stance is consistent and clear, we strongly oppose the presence of foreign military fleets and planes in the Yellow Sea and other seas near China which are conducting activities that affect China's interests and safety. We hope the related parties will stay calm and refrain from doing anything that will escalate regional tension."
The joint exercise was initially scheduled for early June, but was delayed after protests from both the DPRK and China, whose waters border those of South Korea in the sea off the west coast of the Korean Peninsula. Analysts believe China's objections led to the change of venue to the east coast.
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