Top-tier Korean military exercises will remain suspended, Shanahan says

Top-tier Korean military exercises will remain suspended, Shanahan says

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Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan meets with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Sunday (DoD photo)

WASHINGTON — Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the U.S. will not seek to resume high-level military exercises on the Korean peninsula, despite North Korea’s failure to continue negotiations to denuclearize the region.

Shanahan said the current military exercise plan with South Korea and others on the peninsula “is sufficient.” He said he was told by senior military leaders that troops have the required military readiness despite the suspension of so-called Tier One exercises.

Major training exercises were suspended last summer on President Trump’s order to show good faith to Pyongyang as part of talks on its nuclear program. Those talks have ceased since the second Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi in February.

“I don’t think it is necessary (to resume Tier One exercises),” Shanahan said Sunday, during a session with reporters traveling with him to Asia. “I am confident that we have the readiness that we are required to have, the operational forces and the posture.”

He made the comments en route to Seoul from Singapore.

There are roughly 35,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea. The annual high-profile drills always unleashed a torrent of denunciations from North Korea.

Among the Tier One exercises suspended were Ulchi Freedom Guardian, a two-week exercise that consists predominantly of computer-simulated defense drill held in August; two Korean Marine Exchange Program training exercises scheduled to take place over three months in the fall of 2018; the major end of the year exercise, called Vigilant Ace; spring exercises Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, and Max Thunder, an annual joint air training exercise.

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