Annual U.S. and South Korean military exercises could begin as early as the end of this month, say three U.S. defense officials.
Foal Eagle, a yearly exercise with the South Korean military, is now scheduled to begin on March 31 and run through May. The exercise, which the U.S. military describes as defensive in nature, involves thousands of U.S. troops conducting ground, air, naval, and special operations field exercises.
The exercises are usually conducted in March and April, but in December South Korean President Moon Jae-In told NBC News his country was pushing the U.S. to postpone the exercises until after the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in PyeongChang, which end March 18, as an olive branch to North Korea.
North Korea has previously condemned the annual exercise and the large-scale mobilization of troops as provocative.
In January, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said the U.S. would “deconflict” with the Olympics “for logistics reasons.”