Dong Maeng / Alliance
DONG MAENG (DM) (Dong Maeng translates to “Alliance”), exercises the tactical, operational, and strategic competencies related to military operations on the Korean peninsula. Additionally, DM builds upon the relationships, lessons learned, and staff interactions derived from the many small-scale training and exercise events conducted by force components throughout the year – air, ground, naval, and marine forces train habitually with their ROK counterparts on the fundamentals of warfighting.
As the cancellation announcement about Key Resolve and Foal Eagle was made, the Republic of Korea and the United States Combined Forces Command said it will conduct the exercise "Dong Maeng" March 4-12 as a replacement for the two. In a press release, the Combined Forces Command (CFC) characterized the exercise as one "that highlights the longstanding and enduring partnership and friendship between the two nations and their commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea and regional stability." The statement went on further to announce the exercise had "been modified from the previously held spring exercises Key Resolve and Foal Eagle and will focus on focus on strategic, operational, and tactical aspects of general military operations on the Korean Peninsula."
Seoul and Washington decided to revise their joint annual drills known as Key Resolve and Foal Eagle. The decision was made after a 45-minute telephone conversation the day before,… between Seoul's Defense Minister, Jeong Kyeong-doo, and acting U.S. Defense Secretary ( ) Patrick Shanahan. It's a decision that reflected their will to maintain dialogue with Pyongyang, despite the breakdown in negotiations at the second North Korea-U.S. summit. Seoul's JCS Chairman Park Han-ki and CFC Commander Robert Abrams jointly said that the upcoming exercise provides an opportunity for the allies and the United Nations Command to jointly train, adding these exercises are crucial in sustaining and strengthening the alliance. The announcement came after the allies' defense chiefs decided to end the annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises to support diplomatic efforts towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The United States and South Korea began a new, smaller-scale joint military exercise on 04 March 2019, to replace their springtime Key Resolve drills, according to Korea's Yonhap news agency. It added the two militaries will conduct the 9-day new exercise carrying the named "Dong Maeng".
North Korea criticized the scaled-down military exercise that the United States and South Korea held instead of an annual joint massive drill. North Korea's state-run media referred to the ongoing exercise, which began on 05 March 2019. In an apparent effort to encourage Pyongyang to engage in denuclearization, the US and South Korea said that they would not be holding large joint drills in the spring.
The DPRK media said the exercise is based on the assumption that North Korea invades South Korea. It said the drill violates a joint statement issued by Pyongyang and Washington that promises the elimination of hostile relations and easing of military tension. The media added the drill is a frontal challenge to the wishes of all people and the international community for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea was believed to be frustrated with the US as the second summit between their leaders ended without agreement to lift sanctions on the North.
Robert Manning of the Atlantic Council viewed the cancellation of the exercises as a major concession to North Korea, "because alliances are based on the ability to fight together, [if] you don't exercise together, you don't fight together. So it really erodes the [US-ROK] Alliance."
Park Won Gon, Dean of International Affairs at Handong Global University told VOA the cancellations will have an effect on regional security. Park explains that's because Key Resolve consisted of two stages, "first defeat [the enemy] and second, mount a counterattack… cutting the exercise to a week in length, means it drops the counterattack portion from the whole process." Because Foal Eagle is a field training exercise, the amended operation plan reduces the number of troops involved. Park asserts the replacement exercise may not be able to "cover the potential situations should war occur on the Korean peninsula."
An operational support team consisting of Lt. Col. Joe Winchester, 1st Lt. Sherlyne Thomas, Col. William Percival, Brig. Gen. Kenny Council, the mobilization assistant to the commander at the 618th Air Operations Center, Col. Craig McPike, commander of the 916th Air Refueling Wing, and MSgt Eric Banks,) receives special recognition during Exercise (Dong Maeng), on March 12, 2019 at Osan AB, South Korea. McPike, Winchester, Thomas and Banks, who are members of the 916th Air Refueling Wing, deployed to support the Joint Force Air Component Command during the exercise. The team provided direction over air mobility operations, air-cargo movement, aeromedical evacuation, and non-combatant evacuation operations throughout the theater. "This was the best showing of an AMD team to date, said Lt. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, commader of 7th Air Force, "Brig. Gen. Council’s leadership was crucial to the success of this exercise." Exercise (Dong Maeng) provides the Joint Force Commander of Korea and the Republic of Korean leadership the confidence in, and reinforcement of, relationships and maneuvers needed to be successful in defense of allied forces.
The 19-2 Dong Maeng is a new combined command post exercise set for August that will replace the Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills. The allies plan to test South Korea’s initial operational capability(IOC) aimed to evaluate its readiness for the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) from Washington to Seoul.
If South Korea and the U.S. hold military drills, working-level talks between North Korea and the U.S. could be in jeopardy. A statement released 16 July 2019 by the North's foreign ministry says if the allies go ahead with a planned joint exercise in August it's considering scrapping the working-level talks agreed to by President Trump and Kim Jong-un in June 2019 at the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjeom. Pyeongyang said Washington is trying to break the spirit of the first summit last year in Singapore and is blatantly trying to pressure Pyeongyang. Therefore, it said, North Korea was running out of reasons to stick to the promises it made to the US. The ministry said the North's decision not to test nuclear weapons or ICBMs is equivalent to America's pledge to stop the joint drills.
A spokesperson for the North’s foreign ministry said the “19-2 Dong Maeng” drill breaches the promises made between the leaders of the North and the U.S. during their recent meeting at the DMZ. The spokesperson stressed the regime’s suspension of ICBM and nuclear tests is not set in stone, rather a voluntary pledge to help improve North Korea-U.S. relations, adding it's becoming a lost cause due to Washington’s unilateral disregard for its own promises.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|