WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representatives Adam Smith, Chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services, and Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Senators Bob Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and Jack Reed, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services urged Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to offer a clear statement in support of maintaining current U.S. troop levels on the Korean peninsula. In a letter to Secretary Esper, the lawmakers pointed to the upcoming Security Consultative Meeting with the Republic of Korea as an opportunity to reiterate U.S. support for the ROK in the face of ongoing threats from North Korea.
They wrote, “A robust forward-deployed posture by the Alliance, including US forces, is crucial to maintain our deterrence posture with North Korea and assure that the alliance remains prepared to ‘fight tonight’ to deter our adversaries. Anything less risks eroding the alliance’s deterrent posture with dangerous implications for destabilization on the Peninsula, and will make only success in pursuing peace, stability and denuclearization with North Korea more challenging to achieve.”
A provision of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 prohibited the use of funds to reduce the number of U.S. Forces serving on active duty in South Korea below 28,500 subject to a stringent Congressional certification and 90-day waiting period.
Full text of the letter can be found here.