Amid escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea, Washington is practising evacuating Americans from South Korea, media reports said on Monday.
A Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) plane files in the sky in this file photo posted on the U.S. Air Force's website.
USFK stressed that the exercises were routine and were not being held in response to recent event.
"The current language out of the administration, that lack of a diplomatic and serious engagement strategy, in my view, has us sliding toward war by next summer", the retired general told NBC. -South Korean joint naval exercise is underway somewhere in Korean waters, having begun earlier today.
According to a government source Friday, a US satellite recently captured images of North Korean ballistic missiles mounted on TEL being transported out of a hangar to somewhere in areas near Pyongyang and North Pyongan Province.
The exercise is known as Courageous Channel, and will take place between October 23 and 27. Korean and USA military officials are keeping an eye on the situation as they view this as a sign of preparation for the launch of a missile comparable to Hwasong-14 inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) or Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM).
Decisions on whether to evacuate Americans are made by the State Department in consultation with the U.S. Defense Department and other government agencies, it said.
In August, North Korea issued a similar threat, saying its military had presented Kim Jong Un with plans to launch intermediate-range missiles to create "enveloping fire" near Guam, a key US military hub in the Pacific.
The embassy said the planned evacuation drill dubbed "Courageous Channel" has nothing to do with any specific security situation and is carried out as a matter of routine twice a year.
Participants in the exercise perform tasks that include readiness briefings, document and passport inspection, roster updates, and limited rehearsals, the State Department said.
"Nonparticipants across the peninsula can expect little to no disruption of daily activities on and around military installations", it said.
The USS Michigan, an Ohio-class guided-missile submarine of the U.S. Navy, which arrived in Busan last Saturday, will likely join the MCSOF drill as well.