The U.S. House of Representatives as well as the Senate intends to add to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) restrictive clauses and tougher conditional requirements to limit the reduction in the number of U.S. active duty service members stationed in South Korea. As concerns are growing that the Trump administration may cut back on the number of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) troops with Seoul and Washington stuck in negotiations on defense cost sharing, the U.S. Congress attempts to put the brakes on the administration.
A bill on the NDAA for the upcoming fiscal year includes a new clause that restricts the use of funds to reduce the USFK under the current level of 28,500 and more stringent legal requirements for reduction, Voice of America (VOA) said on Saturday (local time). An aide to the U.S. House Committee on Armed Services (HASC) told VOA that the new bill mandates additional strict requirements that the administration must prove to the Congress to execute a reduction plan, one of which directly mentions the relevance with threats from North Korea. That is, the U.S. administration must show the Congress that a reduced USFK contributes to mitigating North Korea's threats. Added to this, it must prove that South Korea maintains a certain level of capabilities that can deter conflict. The HASC intends to vote on the NDAA bill and release the complete text on July 1.
Also, the 2021 NDAA bill released on Tuesday by the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services limits the use of funds to cut back on the current number of USFK troops. Having passed the committee, the bill is pending at the congressional plenary session.