Ulchi-Freedom Guardian (을지 프리덤 가디언, Eulji peulideom gadieon) is the name (as of 2015) of the military exercise previously known as Ulchi-Focus Lens, a combined military exercise between South Korea and the United States. The exercise is the world's largest computerized command and control implementation which mainly focuses on defending South Korea from a North Korean attack. The exercise was initiated in 1976 and is conducted annually during August or September. The word 'Ulchi' comes from the name of a famous Korean general called Eulji Mundeok, who was the Commander-In-Chief of the army of Goguryeo.
The origin of the exercise is Taeguk Yeonseup (Taeguk Exercise), which began after the Blue House Raid by North Korean special forces in 1968. The title of the exercise was changed to Ulchi Yeonseup (Ulchi Exercise) in the following year. In 1976, it was integrated with ROK-US Combined Forces Command's military training, Focus Lens, into Ulchi-Focus Lens. The name of the exercise was changed again in 2008 to Ulchi-Freedom Guardian.
Reaction of North Korea
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On 20 August 2012, the usually uneventful exercise began between the South Korea and the United States over the objections of North Korea. North Korea alleged that the drill was a precursor to a war planned against them. The North Korean foreign ministry stated that "the prevailing situation requires us to bolster up the war deterrent physically and goes to prove that it was entirely just when we determined to fully reexamine the nuclear issue." Anti-war activists joined in, gathering outside the U.S. Army base in Seoul on to protest the drill. The United States Department of State countered, saying that North Korea must refrain from "bellicose statements." General James D. Thurman, added on, stating that Ulchi Freedom Guardian is "a key exercise in strengthening the readiness of Republic of Korea and U.S. forces."
- "SKorea-US war drills begin amid North's protest". Associated Press. Seattle Times. 20 August 2012. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
- "S. Korea, US in major annual military drill". Agence France-Presse. Yahoo!. 20 August 2012. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
- "US, South Korea launch major joint war game amid protest". PressTV. 20 August 2012. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
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