South Korea and the U.S. kicked off on Monday their large-scale joint war-game exercise known as Ulchi Freedom Guardian.
Pyongyang has long denounced the exercise, calling it a rehearsal for a northern invasion, while Seoul and Washington stress that the drills, which run until August 31st, are purely defensive in nature.
The exercise is a computerized command post exercise which excludes field maneuvers.
Military officials say that this year's exercise will include a three step nuclear deterrence strategy, which consists of ways to counter an imminent nuclear launch or threat of a nuclear attack by the regime.
South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff officials say that the drills will be smaller in size compared to last year and will involve a reduction in the number of U.S. forces taking part.
Around 17 thousand U.S. troops are currently taking part in the drills, while some 25 thousand U.S. soldiers took part last year.
According to South Korea's defense ministry, 50 thousand South Korean troops are also taking part.
It is not yet known if Washington will deploy strategic assets to the peninsula.
The two allies have also upped their readiness and surveillance for possible North Korean provocations during the drills.
Kim Hyun-bin, Arirang News.