U.S. Lawmakers Back Troop Presence in S.Korea

  • By Yu Yong-weon, Cho Yi-jun

    May 16, 2018 11:51

    The U.S. House Committee on Armed Services has passed a bill that would ensure that the U.S. Forces Korea's numbers do not fall below 22,000 without authorization from Congress.

    That slams the brakes on some moves in the White House to use the USFK as a bargaining chip in a summit with North Korea in June.

    The National Defense Authorization Act passed the House committee by 60-1, Voice of America reported on Monday. The act specifies the annual defense budget, and even the president cannot override it.

    U.S. A-10 Thunderbolt attackers taxi at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province on Friday. /Newsis

    The revised act ensures that "U.S. active duty forces in [South Korea] will not fall below 22,000 troops without a certification by the Secretary of Defense that any drop below that number is necessary to the national defense and will not significantly undermine allied security in the region."

    The amendment was proposed by Rep. Ruben Gallego, who feared that the Trump administration might use the USFK as a bargaining chip in negotiations with North Korea.

    The current USFK troop level is between 23,400 and 28,500, depending on rotations and training.

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