The US and the Republic of Korea conducted joint military exercises Monday, which included an unspecified number of B-1 bombers flying near the demilitarized zone that separates the ROK and North Korea, the Wall Street Journal reported. A spokesperson for the ROK military confirmed the exercises, but the Air Force declined to give details on the number of aircraft involved. The US has maintained a continuous bomber presence—mostly B-52s—in the Pacific region for more than 10 years. B-1 bombers returned to the Pacific region for the first time in a decade in 2016, and they have participated in show of force training sorties regularly since then. North Korea had successfully launched a short-range ballistic missile earlier in the day on Monday, and Pyongyang called the US-ROK exercise “a nuclear bomb-dropping drill” that amounted to “a grave military provocation,” according to the WSJ.
The Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness revised the Defense Department’s COVID-19 guidelines. The new rules clarify what’s meant by being “up to date” on vaccinations and when personnel must wear masks in vehicles, among other changes.