South Korea and the U.S. have decided to postpone their Combined Command Post Training, a computer-based simulation exercise that was set for March, until further notice.
The last time they postponed a joint military drill was for about a month in 2018 after the countries' leaders agreed not to hold one during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
The Combined Forces Command and Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said Thursday they took into account the South Korean government raising its alert for the virus to the highest level.
The fact that an infection was confirmed for the first time Wednesday in a US Forces Korea service member is also believed to have played a role in the decision.
"Our committment to the ROK-U.S. alliance remains ironclad and unbreakable, and the decision to postpone the combined training was not taken lightly. The containment efforts for COVID-19 and the safety of the ROK and U.S. service members were prioritized in making this decision."
Despite the exercise's postponement, the allies said they're committed to maintaining a robust defense posture.
Multiple sources in the South Korean military conceded, though, the postponement actually means the cancellation of all joint military exercises during the first half of this year, a move that could affect the assessment of the military's full operational capability in the latter half of this year, which is a prerequisite for the transfer of wartime operational control from Washington to Seoul.
Meanwhile, five more personnel in the South Korean military have been confirmed to have the virus on Thursday raising the number of confirmed cases in the military to 25.
The newly confirmed include two civilian workers in the Army one each based in Changwon and Daegu two senior-level Air Force personnel based in Daegu and Cheongju , and one civilian worker in the military also based in Daegu.
"With this, the number of soldiers that are being quarantined in their homes or at separate locations on their bases has risen to some 9,990.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News."