POHANG, South Korea — Thousands of US and South Korean troops, backed by helicopters and jet fighters, staged a massive, amphibious landing drill Monday — the centerpiece of an annual military exercise condemned by North Korea.
A total of 7,600 soldiers, including 3,500 marines, along with 80 aircraft, 30 ships, and scores of armored vehicles and tanks, took part in the drill to secure a bridgehead along the coast of Pohang, some 360 kilometers (223 miles) south of Seoul.
Supervised by US and South Korean military commanders, the landing exercise was the highlight of the eight-week Foal Eagle drill which is scheduled to end on April 24.
The annual drills always trigger a surge in military tensions between the two Koreas, which remain technically at war because the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a ceasefire rather than a peace treaty.
The United States and South Korea insist the joint exercises are defensive in nature, but North Korea denounces them as provocative rehearsals for invasion.