Search Toggle display of website navigation The Cable: South Korea and the Military Opti Scott Swift, commander of the U.
The Pentagon in June formally suspended a major military exercise planned for August with South Korea. It originally appeared on scmp. August is usually a busy time of year on South Korean military bases.
As commercial and military planes arrive throughout the South carrying United States military personnel by the thousands, barracks fill to the brim and troops spill into nearby hotels. Story Continued Below For two weeks, from sunrise to sundown and through the wee hours of the night, the bases typically buzz with the comings and goings of soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines all there for the same reason: This year, however, the barracks will be empty, and business on bases will continue as usual, after the suspension of the Ulchi Freedom Guardian UFG exercise, which traditionally brings together some 70, U.
For decades, military commanders and diplomats have touted grand-scale exercises like UFG as pillars of the U. You can unsubscribe at any time. The extent to which North Korea views the exercises as threatening is up for debate, but there is no doubt that Pyongyang — along with Beijing, its primary backer — would like to see a reduction or wholesale departure of the 28, U.
Experts say that China and especially North Korea likely regard the cessation of military exercises as a move in this direction. President Donald Trump in Singapore in June with the joint exercises on his agenda. But officials in Seoul and Washington quickly aligned with him, leading to this coming autumn as the first without a major bilateral exercise in more than four decades.
Government statements in both the U. Defense experts, however, warn that the move could lead to the deterioration of crucial relationships and expertise. Ulchi Freedom Guardian — named for a seventh century Korean general who defended the peninsula against invasion from the north — was first convened, under a different name, in While day-to-day military operations are largely characterized by meetings, paperwork and logistical concerns, U.
When it comes to even more complex activities like anti-submarine warfare, long-range air strike coordination and ballistic missile defense, Stavridis said that repetition and rehearsals are indispensable.
Retired South Korean Major General Kim Joong-ro, who led thousands of soldiers as an army division commander and took part in decades of UFG-style exercises, agreed that the opportunity to identify and work through potential points of friction across the alliance structure was crucial.
Experts say it is not just military leaders who benefit from time spent with their alliance partners; troops at all levels in the chain of command gain from the experience as well. With staff members of all ranks still fresh in their seats come August — including many who lack prior experience in Korea — UFG is well-timed to bring them up to speed, said Bruce Bennett, a senior researcher at the RAND Corporation who specializes in Korean defense policy and exercises.
Many of those new personnel, including some in leadership positions, will serve in Korea for only one year before moving on to other assignments, Bennett said, because of uniquely short tour lengths on the peninsula.
The loss of even one major exercise could thus result in some service members remaining unclear about their wartime roles and responsibilities for much of their tour.
Undercutting alliance cohesion is a step towards this goal for North Korea. Leaders in Beijing have often cited U. Trump has questioned the utility, and expense, of basing so many U. The suspension of bilateral military exercises is not entirely without precedent, though, and there are no direct indications the current halt will lead to a change in U.
Ina major spring exercise was canceled, also amid efforts to denuclearize the peninsula. It is unclear how Trump intends to quantify progress, however, after news reports that North Korea might in fact be bolstering some nuclear capabilities since their meeting. Months of planning go into the large-scale exercises.
With the autumn now certain to pass without one, the potential for their recommencement with Key Resolve in the spring is sure to be a topic of discussion when U. Snyder and others expect the leaders may push for a continuation of exercises with their respective bosses, or at least for the reinstatement of certain exercise components without the banner public relations component that the big-name exercises traditionally entail.
But there are still significant political factors at play, he said, that could jeopardize Key Resolve.
For one, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has lately pursued policies that could lead to a reduction of North and South Korean troops in the Korean demilitarized zone.
If Moon were to perceive that bilateral exercises could scuttle progress with the North Korean regime, he could advocate for a continued suspension of exercises through the Key Resolve season.
The United States and South Korea will begin negotiating this week a new cost-sharing agreement for basing U.S. troops in South Korea, Seoul said Monday. “The two sides will discuss to produce a. Sep 10, · In January of this year, President Trump floated ordering all family members of U.S. troops in South Korea to leave the country -- an act that North Korea would have seen as "a sign of imminent. GLOBAL CHESSBOARD America Debuts New Military Mega-Base in South Korea. The U.S. is quietly consolidating its forces on the Korean Peninsula into a new fortress south .
Whatever the case, a speedy resumption of major exercises will be needed if the alliance hopes to avoid exponential losses in readiness, said Cha Du-hyeogn, a scholar with the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul who has helped shape South Korean defense policy for decades.
As it is, Cha noted, many of those involved in planning Key Resolve on the U.
Significant institutional memory exists on both sides of the alliance to guard against debilitating effects in the near term, he said, but that memory will stretch thin as further exercise windows close.Human rights groups are calling on South Korea’s government to stop imprisoning conscientious objectors who refuse to participate in military service, including numerous Jehovah’s Witnesses.
President Donald Trump receives a briefing from military commanders at the U.S. 8th Army Operation Command Center at U.S. military installation Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, on.
GLOBAL CHESSBOARD America Debuts New Military Mega-Base in South Korea. The U.S. is quietly consolidating its forces on the Korean Peninsula into a new fortress south .
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