(WASHINGTON) — The Pentagon is contemplating “changes” to its navy presence in South Korea and across the globe because it shifts from years of countering insurgencies and militants within the higher Center East to specializing in China, Protection Secretary Mark Esper stated Tuesday.
Esper stated he has issued no order to withdraw from South Korea.
With out discussing specifics, Esper stated he favors extra emphasis on rotational deployments, versus everlasting stationing, of American troops “as a result of it offers us, the US, higher strategic flexibility by way of responding to challenges across the globe.”
The U.S. has about 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea as a bulwark towards North Korea, however the U.S.-South Korea treaty alliance is below nice pressure, primarily due to the Trump administration’s demand that Seoul vastly enhance the quantity it pays for the U.S. presence. Negotiations led on the U.S. facet by the State Division have been deadlocked for months.
The Pentagon stated Esper spoke by cellphone Monday together with his South Korean counterpart to debate the fee problem and different issues, together with the stalemated U.S. effort to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons. It gave no particulars.
President Donald Trump has questioned the worth of stationing U.S. troops in South Korea and elsewhere on the planet, saying Seoul and different host governments should pay extra of the price.
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In his remarks in a webinar hosted by the Worldwide Institute for Strategic Research in London, Esper stated that since taking workplace a yr in the past he has sought to overview the worldwide U.S. navy footprint with an eye fixed to competing extra successfully with China and Russia. That has included in search of methods to convey extra U.S. troops residence in order that they will practice extra instantly for missions associated to potential battle within the Asia-Pacific area.
Esper stated he hopes to go to China this yr to “improve cooperation on areas of widespread curiosity,” enhance disaster communications techniques, and “reinforce our intentions to overtly compete within the worldwide system through which all of us belong.”
Earlier this month Esper accepted the withdrawal of 9,500 troops from Germany, though he has but to publicly disclose what number of of these might be introduced residence and what number of might be shifted to different elements of Europe or elsewhere. He additionally has reviewed the U.S. presence in Africa.
“We are going to proceed to take a look at changes in each command we’ve, in each theater, to verify we’re optimizing our forces,” Esper stated in Tuesday’s webinar.
The U.S. navy presence in South Korea dates to the 1950-53 Korean Conflict through which American forces fought in assist of the South after North Korean troops invaded and have been later supported by Chinese language troops.