Department of Defense Talks of
Troops in Korea
By Jim Garamone,
WASHINGTON, March 7, 2003 – The United States
will work with its Korean allies to "rebalance" U.S.
forces in the country, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said
Rumsfeld was talking about a worldwide reconfiguring
of U.S. forces during a Pentagon town hall meeting.
He opined on the situation in Korea. "We
still have a lot of forces in Korea arranged very far forward,
where it’s intrusive in their lives, and where they really aren’t
very flexible or usable for other things," he said.
South Korea has a gross domestic product between
25 and 35 times that of North Korea, the secretary said. "(South
Korea) has all the capability in the world of providing the kind
of up-front deterrent that is needed," he said.
The United States could even remove forces from
the Korean Peninsula because control of the air and sea gives
the United States unprecedented mobility, he said. A quick, light
military could move back into the area at a moment’s notice. New
South Korean President Roh Muh-hyun ran on a platform to rebalance
the alliance, and DoD is eager to do so, according to a senior
But that does not mean America would desert the
alliance. "The United States remains committed to the defense
of the Republic of Korea and to the stability of the Korean Peninsula
and Northeast Asia," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis, a DoD
spokesman. He noted the alliance has kept the peace in Korea for
50 years and will continue to do so in the future.
Rumsfeld said the United States is working with
its Korean ally to update and strengthen the U.S.-ROK alliance
in the 21st century. With that in mind, Richard Lawless, deputy
assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific affairs,
met with Deputy Minister of Defense Lt. Gen. Cha Young Koo in
Seoul and discussed the future.
The two allies talked about repositioning U.S.
troops in South Korea, moving the headquarters for U.S. Forces
Korea out of Seoul and changing the mission focus of U.S. troops
based on the peninsula.
"I suspect that what we’ll do is we’ll end
up making some adjustments there," Rumsfeld said during the
town hall session. "Whether the forces would come home or
whether they’d move farther south on the peninsula, or whether
they would move to some neighboring area are the kinds of things
that are being sorted out."
The first formal meeting of the Future of the
Alliance Policy Initiative is set in April, DoD officials said.