U.S. military officials on Friday said that there are plans to conduct joint large-scale exercises with South Korea later in August, as North Korea finalizes plans to launch medium range missiles toward the Pacific island of Guam.

The military drills are held annually but they have will take place now, as Pyongyang has prepared a plan to strike four Hwasong-12 ballistic missiles towards the U.S. territory of Guam. The tiny Pacific island is a major U.S. military hub and home to 163,000 people. The plan would be forwarded to Kim Jong-Un for authorization before or as soon as the joint U.S.-South Korea war game begins.

Sudden war games

The exercises, which are called Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, will commence on August 21 and conclude on August 31. Tens of thousands of U.S. and South Korean forces are expected to participate in land, sea and air event. Both the United States and South Korea say that the War Games are purely defensive in nature and strategic to deterrent against aggression by Pyongyang.

Officials said the exercises were already scheduled before the heightened tension emanated over Trump’s rhetoric and Pyongyang’s plans to launch ballistic missile toward the U.S.-held territory of Guam, which, if executed, would be highly provocative to the U.S. The joint exercises held annually are met with fierce condemnation and threats of attack by the North Korean regime.

Heightened tension on Korean Peninsula

The escalated military activity on the korean peninsula this time around is worrisome because it has the potential to create a mishap or an overheating by either side that could lead to a more heightened tension. North Korea has been keenly monitoring the exercises because the training has been reported to include decapitation attacks to eliminate Kim Jong-Un and his high ranking military officials.

On Friday, South Korean defense officials confirmed that the exercises are billed to commence without delays, but declined to give more details. The U.S. Defense Department said more than 40,000 troops will participate in Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, along with non-military personnel from South Korea who will train civil defense officers.

President Trump on Wednesday warned North Korea to get its act together. The U.S. president had earlier threatened to unleash "fire and fury" on the reclusive state. However, he later said that the threat was too mild.