The Wall street Journal reported Friday (local time) that the U.S. Department of Defense presented the White House several options to reduce the size of U.S. troops in Korea in March this year. Some interpret this as a way to enhance the pressure on South Korea to increase its share of defense cost ahead of the upcoming U.S. presidential election in November. But others are concerned that a reduction of U.S. troops could become a reality just like the recent troop cut in Germany.
The White House ordered the Pentagon to provide preliminary options to reduce U.S. troops around the world including the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia in fall, according to the newspaper. The Pentagon provided options, which included a reduction of U.S. troops in South Korea. The Pentagon announced that it would not respond to presumptions of the press, adding that it was reviewing the deployment of U.S. troops regularly. “Each Combatant Command is going through a clean-sheet review to consolidate and reduce legacy missions, tasks, and posture,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said in a statement “Accomplishments in Implementation of the National Defense Strategy” published on Friday. He said reviews and adjustments were happening in regions such as Africa and Europe, and reviews on the Indo-Pacific region would start in a few months. It is seen as an official statement that the U.S. Department of Defense would review whether to cut U.S. troops in South Korea, which belongs to the Indo-Pacific Command.
“The two countries have not discussed or negotiated the issue,” said a South Korean military insider. “It is not included in the agenda for the video conference between the top defense leaders of the U.S. and South Korea in the near future.” The South Korean military interprets it as a card to put more pressure on the nation to increase the defense cost, but is still analyzing the true meaning and the background of the review.
Jae-Dong Yu firstname.lastname@example.org