Trump’s vow to end US-South Korea drills catches Pentagon off guard

Washington- Pentagon officials scrambled for a clear message on Tuesday about the US military presence in South Korea, after President Donald Trump vowed at his summit with the North’s leader Kim Jong Un to cancel “provocative” joint drills.

Trump startled observers when he told reporters that after the unprecedented meeting in Singapore with Kim, he said that continuing the exercises routinely held between the US and South Korean militaries would be “inappropriate” while the US works the nitty grittys of a comprehensive deal with North Korea.

Trump said, “We will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money, unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should,”

He also noted, “Plus, I think it’s very provocative,” adding that “at some point” his intention is to withdraw US troops from the South Korea.

The decision did not say whether the pledge was in part of the historic document signed on Tuesday. Trump signed with Kim, and that is when news was received to both South Korea and the Pentagon.

Currently the US Forces Korea (USFK), comprises about 28 500 troops, who are permanently based in South Korea, they received no immediate information on the way forward with the upcoming joint training exercises, including so-called Ulchi Freedom Guardian scheduled for later this year.

Spokeperson for USFK Colonel Chad Carroll said  in a statement, “In coordination with our (South Korean) partners, we will continue with our current military posture until we receive updated guidance from the Department of Defense and/or Indo-Pacific Command.”

The Pentagon was not so forthcoming with a statement of their own, according to Reuters officials ducked from making a statement as their were in and out of meetings to discuss what would amount to the massive shift in how the US military has been stationed in South Korea for decades.

The main motto of troops in the South is that they are prepared to “fight tonight,” and joint drills are seen as the most important component of that readiness.

Spokeperson for the Pentagon Chris Sherwood said, “The Department of Defence continues to work with the White House, the interagency, and our allies and partners on the way forward following the US/(North Korea)summit,”

“We will provide additional information as it becomes available.”

Photo Credit- North Korean Insight

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