The U.S. Congress reached agreement on a passing of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a part of which stipulates that the number of the Unites States Forces in South Korea is maintained at the current level of 28,500 troops, according to Voice of America (VOA) on Friday. This version of the NDAA became the first to gain approval in the U.S. Congress since the victory of President-elect Joe Biden, which is seen by experts to reflect the next U.S. administration’s focus on the U.S.-R.O.K. alliance. Biden has emphasized the significance of restoring the alliance with Seoul while being opposed to the Trump administration implying the likelihood of reducing the scale of the USFK.
The new version of the NDAA includes a clause that prohibits use of budget on cutting back on the USFK. However, some conditions are attached to the clause. A reduction of the USFK may occur if it proves the U.S. Congress that reduced forces serve the U.S. interests of national security; involve insignificant harm to the security of regional alliances; and are a result of proper discussion and consultation with U.S. allies including South Korea and Japan.
Meanwhile, Mark Alexander Milley, the 20th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff appointed last year by President Donald Trump, said in an online forum on Thursday that the U.S. Forces’ way of overseas stationing should allow for optional decisions, arguing that a shift should be made to rotational military presence from permanent duty assignment in South Korea and the Gulf Region. Chairman Milley maintained that family members of U.S. troops, who are civilians, may suffer damage and harm in the event of a military conflict between the two Koreas.
Sang-Ho Yun firstname.lastname@example.org