Skip to comments.Stopping “War Games” Prematurely: A Costly Mistake
Posted on 06/23/2018 7:00:25 AM PDT by Kaslin
I arrived in Seoul on the same day as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after the Singapore Summit. In the wake of the meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Pompeo and I had essentially the same task: reassuring our allies.
Of course, he did it with high-level government officials, and I did it unofficially with many contacts who are journalists, business leaders and academics. But they all had at least one thing in common: concerns about President Trumps announcement that wed be stopping war games in the region.
Although he didnt expressly say so, this is an apparent reference to the joint military exercises that we regularly conduct with South Korean military forces.
Some of these war games are quite large, such as the Ulchi Focus Guardian, which takes place in the fall and involves around 20,000 U.S. personnel, while others are field training exercises by a U.S. battalion or squadron.
Pyongyang, of course, hates these exercises, and has regularly called for them to be halted. North Korean officials often make this request a condition of stopping nuclear tests, as they did as recently as 2015.
In January of that year, they called on the U.S. to ease tensions on the peninsulaby temporarily suspending joint military exercises in and around South Korea this year, and [in return] the DPRK [Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea] is ready to temporarily suspend the nuclear test over which the U.S. is concerned.
So weve been down this road before. We said no in 2015. We should say no now.
For one thing, the exercises are necessary if were to continue honoring our long-standing commitment to our South Korean allies. They ensure that U.S. and South Korean forces, as well as select allied forces who are part of the United Nations Command, are able to work seamlessly together to defend South Korea from attack, writes Thomas Spoehr, a former Pentagon official with more than 36 years of U.S. Army experience.
North Korean officials, in their usual blustery, bellicose fashion, refer to these exercises as dress rehearsals for an invasion. What theyre actually doing, however, is preventing an invasion from Pyongyang. They know that if they get us to suspend our military exercises for an extended period of time that it will erode the readiness of U.S. and South Korean forces to successfully work together to defend South Korea.
But theres another reason to reject any demands to suspend our war games. North Korea is attempting to barter over something it does not legitimately possess, in the words of Korea expert Bruce Klingner namely, the ability to conduct nuclear tests.
Numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions bar North Korea from conducting any nuclear or ballistic missile tests. Yet Pyongyang has thumbed its nose at these resolutions time and again and were expected to reward this behavior? Worse, to do so in a way that helps destabilize the region still more?
President Trump has also indicated that hed like to bring U.S. troops home from the region at some point, which he says would save us a lot of money. Even setting aside a simple cost-benefit analysis (isnt such an expense worth keeping the peace, especially considering the cost of war?), we wouldnt be saving much.
Why? Because South Korea pays a large portion of the cost associated with keeping our troops there. And even if we move more than 28,000 troops back to Kansas or California or somewhere else in the U.S., wed still have the expense of keeping them trained, fed and housed right here at home.
Besides, lets consider what were funding here. As President John F. Kennedy once said, The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it.
What a load of crap.
The war games aren’t necessary. They’re a waste of our money and suspending them gives face to Kim for his concessions.
> suspending them gives face to Kim for his concessions <
It’s a bit premature to score the results.
Yep. It is a load of crap.
We expect the North Koreans to act in good faith and trust. Do people expect us to not have to do anything?
We’re not less safe because of Trump’s actions with North Korea. We’re much more safe.
Having done more than my share of planning and flying in Team Spirit, Foal Eagle, Ulchi Focus and other exercises, I am very happy with President Trump’s current approach. A one year break does not hurt and in fact gives those in the trenches a bit of a “breather” from exercise fatigue.
Its a bit premature to score the results.
Yeah but the score is looking good. They just sent us 100 the remains of 100 of our fallen soldiers. This was in addition to the three prisoners they held that they sent us.
Yeah, I know the game is not over. I am not sure that it ever is. But you have to see the positive when it’s there.
I think will are more and more seeing the problem. There are some people that will truly be disappointed if hostilities come to a close.
If our permanent policy is now to suspend not only the current war games exercises, but also all future exercises as well, then the writer might have a point.
But, no one, including the President, has made such a claim. He suspended, for the time being, this falls exercises. I believe our President would change that in a heartbeat if he felt North Korea was back stepping from their word.
Remember it was Trump who canceled the summit in Singapore a week or so before it was supposed to happen, when Kim began his usual backtracking. Trump demonstrated to the North Koreans that he wasnt fooling around.
When he did, the North Koreans scrambled to rescue said summit. Trump called their bluff.
So, I think is way to early to make such statements as the writer has made. Sounds like he has agenda (captain obvious!).
Agreed. I served in Korea from 95-98. Back then, larger exercises made sense, IMHO. However, given that the typical tour for most US personnel is one year, skipping the exercises for one year should not appreciably degrade readiness. Smaller training events should keep units ready at the tactical level, and there is no reason senior leadership can’t continue with command post exercises and other simulations.
Costly all right. Mainly to the contractors.
A phone call ramps them up again in a heartbeat.
Great input. Thanks!
The War Party is not bound by such designations as Democrat or Republican.
I believe you are correct. There seems to be a big push by some to start a war, any war. I don’t know the real reason but the affect is an over burdened military. Of course, that could be the reason.
Something is different with dealing with North Korea this time. Kim Jung Il is desperate. His goal of being a respected military power failed miserably, even with nukes and long range missiles. The cost was enormous and he is going broke. He can no longer bribe those that protect him. I think he is only negotiating to stay alive and end with some power, even if it is much more limited.
POTS is giving little rocket boy a chance to prove whether he is serious about denuclearizing his country, or playing NK's usual games or not.
If the former is true, the suspension will continue. If little rocket boy isn't serious then they will be reinstituted post haste.
President Trump is giving little rocket boy a "one time only offer". If little kimmy renigs on the deal then POTS is going to lower the hammer, triple the sanctions and squeeze NK until little kimmy gets the Musolini/Chauchesque (sp?) "treatment".
President Trump is deadly serious, and little kimmy knows it. Besides South Korea and the USA already have all of the various military contingencies and training for any and every military situation in hand.
Precisely. It is a strategic move to keep Kim on board for further negotiations. We still have troops and capability there but this lets Kim save face. Very important in Asian cultures. Im sure there is still a lot going on behind the scenes to keep this moving. We may not know of it until after the deal is done.
” ... Kim Jung Il is desperate. ..”
Yeah he is pretty desperate he’s dead ! (Died in 2011)
You mean Kim Jung Un and yes he’s desperate too!
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