The Pentagon added that the drills will be on a "scale similar to that of the previous years," after reports that the exercises would be subdued amid potential discussions with the North.
The exercises usually provoke an agitated response from North Korea, but Pyongyang has yet to weigh in on this year's plans.
"The field exercises are normally what North Korea reacts most strongly to each year, so this may be an effort by the U.S. and South Korea to maintain an environment that is more conducive to dialogue with the DPRK before the upcoming summits," Lisa Collins, a fellow with the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told CNBC. North Korea is officially called the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The massive war games combine two exercises:
– "Foal Eagle," a drill that involves about 11,500 U.S. and 290,000 South Korean troops.
– "Key Resolve," a computer-simulated training program with approximately 12,200 U.S. and 10,000 South Korean military personnel.
The defensive drills, which have been carried out regularly for nearly 40 years, showcase a spectrum of air, land and sea operations.
Last year, the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier participated, along with assault amphibious vehicles, tanks and other armored trucks.
A U.S. defense official, who declined to be named, told CNBC that a carrier strike group would not take part this year, which is due to planning and not related to the political situation.
Aircraft including F-16s, F-22s, F-35s, and stealth bombers have also deployed in support of "Foal Eagle."