Pentagon chief says no orders to withdraw forces from S. Korea

Pentagon chief says no orders to withdraw forces from S. Korea

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday he has issued "no orders to withdraw forces in the Korean Peninsula", but left the door open, saying the Pentagon seeks to optimize US forces through troop adjustments at every command worldwide.

Esper stated he has issued no order to withdraw from South Korea. "We have to do what is necessary, but safety is also key to maintaining defence readiness posture", the official said, suggesting the exercises could involve more simulations and less field training.

Esper said in his remarks that the US continues to work with South Korea to achieve the "final, fully verified denuclearization" of North Korea and enduring peace on the peninsula.

Hoffman echoed that sentiment, saying the US military's commitment to ROK remains unchanged.

Under the Japan-U.S. security treaty, about 50,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Japan, enabling the United States to respond rapidly to contingencies in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Pentagon's Joint Chiefs of Staff has revised the structure of United States forces in South Korea as part of a broader review of how to reposition and potentially reduce military deployments worldwide, a U.S. military official said. It gave no details.

Meanwhile, Seoul and Washington have struggled to conclude a new agreement determining how much South Korea will contribute to the cost of stationing American troops there, reports Yonhap News Agency.

The paper noted that the disclosure came as US President Donald Trump recently chose to partially withdraw troops from Germany. "Is the Pentagon and the president considering any reduction or withdrawal of USA forces?"

President Trump has regularly complained about having a large USA military presence in foreign countries, saying the American troops should be returned stateside.

A USA military official told the Wall Street Journal that the Pentagon reviewed the 28,500 US troops stationed in South Korea, as part of a broader look at shifting deployments worldwide.

Indications earlier this year that downsizing was likely in Africa, where US forces are fighting militant groups, brought howls of congressional disapproval and warnings of Islamic State and al-Qaida expansion there. Citing an unnamed US military official, the report explained that no decision has been made yet. The agreement envisions a full USA departure by the end of April, providing that the militants meet their commitments to reduce violence and embrace negotiations with the Afghan government.

In Iraq, administration officials have said the ongoing presence of US forces, now numbering more than 5,000, is vital to continue training and assisting Iraq's security forces against Islamic State outbreaks, and to help Iraq resist Iranian dominance. "Democrats always liked that position, until I took it".

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