Small Wars Journal

U.S., South Korea Announce End to Joint Military Drills

U.S., South Korea Announce End to Joint Military Drills


Voice of America


The U.S. and South Korea announced late Saturday the two countries will end annual large-scale joint military exercises as part of diplomatic efforts to “achieve complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”


In a statement, the Pentagon said acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan and South Korea Minister of National Defense Jeong Kyeong-doo in a phone call Saturday decided to end the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle series of exercises.


Shanahan tweeted Saturday:


Today ROK MinDef Jeong Kyeong-doo @ROK_MND & I agreed to maintain strong military readiness through newly designed Command Post exercises & revised field training programs. Together we are ready to meet any security challenge. #UNC #USFK #CFC #KatchiKapshida #Alliance


— Acting SecDef Pat Shanahan (@ActingSecDef) March 2, 2019


The Pentagon statement added, “Both the Minister and Secretary agreed that close coordination between the military activities of the United States and Republic of Korea will continue to support diplomatic efforts.”


The decision comes three days after a summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam that ended without an agreement to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis.


Seoul’s Defense Ministry released a similar statement, according to the Associated Press.

North Korea has denounced the U.S., South Korea joint exercises as aggressive provocations and rehearsals for war.


Good-faith Gesture


Ending the exercises could be seen as a good-faith gesture to keep nuclear talks with North Korea alive following the failed Hanoi summit, and to address Trump’s concerns about the high cost of these massive demonstrations of force.


The annual joint drills, which are usually conducted in the spring, were first postponed in 2018 to facilitate North Korea’s peaceful participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics that were held in South Korea.


Trump suspended the exercises indefinitely after meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last June in Singapore, where the two leaders agreed to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.


Trump Critical of Cost


The president had long been critical of the cost of these joint exercises that bring in thousands of troops, fighter jets, warships and other military assets from U.S. bases around the world.


He was asked about the future of the military drills at the recent Hanoi summit, where he and Kim failed to agree on specific measures to reduce the North’s nuclear capabilities, nor to ease crippling economic sanctions imposed on Pyongyang.


“You know, the military exercises, I gave that up quite a while ago because it costs us $100 million every time we do it. We fly these massive bombers in from Guam, and when I first started a certain general said, ‘Oh, yes, sir, we fly them in from Guam. It’s right next door.’


Right next door is seven hours and then they come and drop bombs and go back,” Trump said.

U.S. military leadership is planning to replace the large-scale drills with a series of smaller exercises and training, and implementing technology based virtual exercises instead of deploying thousands of actual troops for the war games.


Given how much President Trump seems to be willing to give away -- this, to appease our enemies while getting nothing substantial/nothing of real substance in return -- should we now begin to see President Trump more in terms of Neville Chamberlain -- and less in terms of Ronald Reagan?


A second Chamberlain:

However, this is an illusion. Not only is Trump not a second Reagan, he may be a second Neville Chamberlain. The man who served as UK Prime Minister from 1937 to 1940 is (in)famous for claiming to bring “peace in our time” to Europe. In reality, he gave Hitler a free hand to invade his neighbors, thus making World War II inevitable.

Much like Chamberlain in Munich, Trump is susceptible to pressure. North Koreans have already said that they won’t disarm because they don’t want to suffer regime change on the model of Libya.

Trump immediately disavowed any intention of removing Kim, a bloody and repressive dictator. Instead, he promised that North Koreans will be “very rich” and Kim will be very happy once he makes a deal with Trump. ...  

It’s a reflexive appeaser’s move. Chamberlain had hoped that, once he gave in to Hitler’s demands and allowed him to grab the Sudetenland, Hitler would be satisfied. Chamberlain was driven by the memories of World War I and desire to avoid another murderous conflict.  He was probably naive, but at least he meant well. He did not realize the immense depth of the murderous impulses of the Nazi dictator.


Bottom Line Thought -- Based on the Above: 

When we properly add in now the new MONSTER APPEASEMENT -- to wit: President Trump's 2017 NSS -- wherein, our President formally states that (with absolutely nothing substantial/nothing of equal substance gained in return?) he has now decided to:

a.  Abandon our century-long effort to transform the outlying states and societies of the world more along modern western lines.  And in the place of same has decided, re: the other states and societies of the world, to: 

b.  Embrace such things as political, economic, social and value "equality," "diversity" and "sovereignty" instead. 

When we add this such MONSTER APPEASEMENT in with the tally -- then should we not begin to see our current President more in, shall we say, "Appeaser-in-Chief" terms?

This, given our current President's apparent -- "Neville Chamberlain-like" -- weakness, vanity and naiveté?

Something which, as with Chamberlain, one's enemies see and understand only as an unexpected -- and certainly as an unearned -- "gift from God."  (And, thus, only in "we smell fresh blood" terms?")