US, South Korea Kick Off Foal Eagle

The US and South Korea on Wednesday kicked off their largest joint exercise, Foal Eagle, as tensions flared on the Korean Peninsula. Last year’s version of the exercise included about 17,000 US troops and more than 300,000 South Koreans and a show of force flight by US bombers over the peninsula. The exercise will last until the end of April, Reuters reported. The beginning of the exercise comes as a White House official tells CNN that President Donald Trump believes North Korea and its nuclear program is the greatest immediate threat to the US. Defense Secretary James Mattis on Tuesday spoke with South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-Koo before the beginning of the exercise, and South Korea has reportedly cleared the way for a critical land transfer to place a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in the country. Mattis, in the call, said “any use of nuclear weapons will be met with a response that is effective and overwhelming,” according to a Pentagon statement.