SEOUL, Aug. 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's military said Friday that Seoul and Washington will stage joint military drills starting next week at a similar level to those last year, despite North Korea's warning of a "catastrophe" over the exercises.
The allies' Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) exercises will kick off Monday and run until Aug. 31. North Korea has long denounced the drills as war rehearsal for a northern invasion. It is a computerized command post exercise (CPX) without field maneuvers.
"This year's military drills will be similar in size to those conducted last year," an official at the Joint Chiefs of Staff told a press briefing.
Seoul's defense ministry said that it has not considered whether to adjust the size of the drills. But this year's exercises will involve smaller U.S. forces compared to last year.
The upcoming exercises are expected to involve about 17,500 U.S. servicemen including around 3,000 forces outside of South Korea. Last year, the drills brought in some 25,000 U.S. soldiers including about 2,500 forces from the U.S. mainland and the U.S. Pacific Command.
Some 50,000 South Korean forces will join the drills, according to the ministry.
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