June 28, 2018 09:24
The commander of the U.S. Forces Korea on Wednesday dismissed concerns that all joint South Korea-U.S. military drills will be halted.
But Gen. Vincent Brooks admitted that the timing and scope of joint exercises will change while talks with North Korea about denuclearization are underway.
"I will eliminate the doubt and concerns about all military training going away. I don't have any such instruction coming my way," Brooks told a forum at the Defense Ministry in Seoul.
The large-scale Freedom Guardian command post exercise in August well as the company-level Korean Marine Exchange Program drills have already been suspended.
"I don't anticipate that this is an end of all exercises and training as we know it, but rather these visible exercises that are right up front that may cause unnecessary irritation at a time when the need for trust building is so important," he said.
North Korea has in turn has not reduced its military arsenal and taken no steps to dismantle its missiles, nuclear weapons, conventional weapons or troops in frontline areas, he pointed out.
"So my encouragement is we maintain that spirit of moving forward even with the doubt, and we look for ways to help North Korea save face where possible but while also keeping pressure on them to not back up," Brooks added. He stressed the need to maintain military preparedness despite the suspension of large-scale drills.
He denied that pulling U.S. troops out of South Korea is a matter of interest to the leaders of South Korea and the U.S., despite remarks by U.S. President Donald Trump that he wants to "bring the troops back home."
"We shouldn't have any worry or doubt about the departure of U.S. forces," Brooks said.
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