The U.S. Forces in Korea (USFK) said on Tuesday it had yet to receive any orders to cease military drills with South Korea following American President Donald Trump’s post-Singapore summit pledge to halt “war games” in the Korean peninsula.
Echoing the American troops, Nam Gwan-pyo, a deputy director of South Korea’s presidential National Security Office, said there is “no change at all” regarding the military drills issue, indicating the issue requires consultations between the stakeholders, Yonhap News Agency reports.
In a statement, Lt. Colonel Jennifer Lovett, a spokeswoman for U.S. Forces in Korea, declared:
The USFK has received no updated guidance on execution or cessation of training exercises — to include this fall’s scheduled Ulchi Freedom Guardian.
In coordination with our ROK (South Korean) partners, we will continue with our current military posture until we receive updated guidance from the Department of Defense (DoD) and/or Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM).
For decades, the United States has kept a force along the border that divides North and South Korea that now reaches up to 30,000.
The U.S. military reportedly explained in the statement:
USFK has maintained a very steady level of troops on the Korean peninsula in recent years. Although the commonly cited figure is routinely between 28,000 and 29,000, the actual number can drop lower than that and/or swell to over 30,000 given presence of rotational units or training exercises.
In coordination with our ROK partners, USFK will continue to receive guidance from DoD and/or INDOPACOM on any potential changes to troop levels on the Korean peninsula.
The statement came after President Trump, following his historic summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un on Tuesday, proclaimed that America would stop “war games” with South Korea, dismissing them as “provocative and expensive.”
Annual U.S.-South Korea military exercises have been a thorn in the side of America’s relationship with the North. Pyongyang has often cited the drills as a U.S. military rehearsal for war, citing them as a reason for why it needs nuclear weapons.
“Under the circumstances that we’re negotiating a very comprehensive complete deal I think it’s inappropriate to have war games. … It is something that [North Korea] very much appreciated,” President Trump told reporters in Singapore after the summit.
Although Trump noted that he wants to “bring them [U.S. troops] back home,” he added that the issue is “not part of the equation right now.”
In a joint statement the two leaders signed, Kim “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” without explicitly outlining how the dictator will carry out his part of the bargain.