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house Bill H.R. 889

Should the U.S. Military Presence in South Korea Continue Through 2019?

Argument in favor

The presence of U.S. troops on the Korean Peninsula is the only thing preventing war between North and South Korea. It’s necessary to ensure that our military stays in the region until such time as we’re sure South Korea is strong enough to defend itself and maintain the region’s stability without a U.S. military presence.

SneakyPete's Opinion
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03/01/2019
Yes, By All Means YES - Their Presence Helps Stabilizes The Region. The presence of U.S. troops on the Korean Peninsula is the only thing preventing war between North and South Korea. It’s necessary to ensure that our military stays in the region until such time as we’re sure South Korea is strong enough to defend itself and maintain the region’s stability without a U.S. military presence. SneakyPete..... 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻. 2*28*19.....
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burrkitty's Opinion
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03/01/2019
I am not a fan of endless war and all our crazy actions in the Middle East, but South Korea is a different story. We are obligated to help our allies and unlike the Middle East, South Korea and Japan have been true Allies and Friends to the USA. Something that is readily apparent when you visit those countries. The situation on the Korean Peninsula needs to be resolved peacefully, but I support maintaining the armistice until actual peace is made. We can’t and shouldn’t back out of our commitments there until a real peace is made.
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Michael r's Opinion
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03/01/2019
As a Navy member that visited Korea many times and talked to Korean soldiers and sailors, I know that if our military pulled out, there would be several results: 1) South Korea would be terrified with good reason; 2) Despite the assurances of North Korea, they along with China would wait and at the weakest time gladly invade the South and just like before, we would be immersed in another war. From my observations, pulling our troops out would be a serious miscalculation and dismantle the delicate balance that we have had since the Korean War. Shifting things so radically is a gamble that I hope you won’t take!
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Argument opposed

Deterrence on the Korean Peninsula is primarily based on long-range precision strikes by cruise missiles and stealth bombers, not troops on the Korean Peninsula — so it’d be ok to withdraw U.S. troops. Additionally, it’s expensive to keep our military in Korea, so it’s worth considering a troop drawdown to reduce spending.

Anna's Opinion
···
03/01/2019
Decrease the military industry. We spend too much on defense and not enough at home on Americans. Scale the military budget down to size, and invest in Americans.
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Kodiwodi's Opinion
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03/01/2019
I’m for a downsizing of the military presence there and remaining if and only if South Korea wishes for us to remain with no influence from the US Administration.
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Pat's Opinion
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03/01/2019
The US should keep bases in South Korea but it may be okay to decrease the number of bases and/or troops stationed there if the experts determine what number is needed for that area of the world.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Armed Services
    IntroducedJanuary 30th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 889?

This bill would prohibit the use of fiscal year 2019 Dept. of Defense (DOD) funds to reduce the total number of Armed Forces serving on active duty in the Republic of Korea (ROK) to below 22,000. Before future reductions in troop levels on the Korean Peninsula could happen, this bill would require that the Secretary of Defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) to jointly certify to the relevant congressional committees that the ROK could fully defense itself and deter a conflict on the Korean Peninsula that’d threaten U.S. interests.

Additionally, the Secretary of Defense would be required to consult with U.S. allies, including the ROK and Japan, regarding troop reductions in the Korean Peninsula. Finally, the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the JCS Chairman, would be required to jointly certify to Congress that North Korea has completed “verifiable and irreversible nuclear disarmaments” before a troop reduction can occur.

Impact

U.S. military; Korean Peninsula; Korea; JCS; Secretary of Defense; Secretary of State; and the Director of National Intelligence.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 889

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) introduced this bill to protect and reinforce the U.S.-ROK alliance. In a letter to his congressional colleagues seeking cosponsors for this bill, Rep. Gallagher wrote:

“This bill builds upon and strengthens language in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act to ensure the United States maintains a robust military presence on the Korean Peninsula. The bill includes a sense of Congress about the importance of treaty alliances and a forward-deployed force in the Indo-Pacific, while making clear that Congress should be consulted well in advance of any significant change to the status quo on the Peninsula. Most importantly, the bill limits funding for a withdrawal from South Korea. This limitation blocks a withdrawal of US forces below 22,000 unless the Secretary of Defense certifies that South Korea would be fully capable of defending itself following the withdrawal, that the reduction was coordinated in consultation with US allies, and that the withdrawal supports National Defense Strategy requirements.”

In an interview on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Rep. Gallagher spoke about the need for caution on North Korea going forward:

“ I understand that we're pursuing something that may be more important in the short term, which is the dismantlement of [North Korea’s] nuclear program. And I hope the administration is successful. But our best chance to resolve [the North Korea problem] peacefully will be produced if we maintain the policy of maximum pressure and maintain a credible military deterrent. And that's why I think Congress has an important role to play. Congress can make it clear that our presence on the Korean Peninsula is not negotiable, that that's as much about countering the immediate threat posed by the Kim regime as it is countering China's long-term threat. And we won't be hamstrung in terms of our ability to work with our allies in the region and pursue our interests strategically yet aggressively.”

David Maxwell, a 30-year US. Army veteran and retired Special Forces colonel who’s a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, argues that U.S. presence on the Korean Peninsula is the only thing keeping the peace in the region:

“It is essential for both sides to remember that the primary purpose of the alliance is to prevent war. The highest ranking North Korean defector, Hwang Jong Yop, said the only thing deterring an attack by the North is the presence of U.S. troops. Unlike Iraq and Afghanistan a war on the Korean peninsula will have global impact and the loss of blood and treasure will far surpass the 1950-53 conflict…. [U.S. troop’s immediate departure from the Korean Peninsula] would a be tragic and abrupt end to the ROK-U.S. strategic alliance. More worryingly, it could bring a tragic and abrupt start of a new conflict with North Korea, without the presence of a U.S. deterrent force.”

President Trump has signaled that he wants to draw down troops in the Korean Peninsula, as he’s complained that the cost of maintaining a military presence there is too high. Trump has complained that the U.S. isn’t adequately compensated for the cost of maintaining troops in the Korean Peninsula, that the troops are mainly protecting Japan, and that decades of U.S. military presence haven’t prevented North Korea from becoming a nuclear threat. He has also called military exercises in Korea “provocative war games,” and tweeted:

“We (the U.S.) are substantially subsidizing the Militaries of many VERY rich countries all over the world, while at the same time these countries take total advantage of the United States, and our TAXPAYERS, on Trade. General Mattis did not see this as a problem. I DO, and it is being fixed!”

Reportedly, top Trump administration officials have had to repeatedly convince the president not to withdraw troops from the Korean Peninsula. In May 2018, Trump ordered the Pentagon to prepare options for drawing down U.S. troops in South Korea.

In June 2018, a White House official noted that Trump’s desire to withdraw troops from the Korean Peninsula is rooted in fiscal, rather than strategic, concerns:

“The president has believed for 30 years that these alliance commitments are a drain on our finite national treasure. He doesn’t care about the intangible, he just sees the bottom line number of what it costs.”

Baohui Zhang, director of the Centre for Asian Pacific Studies at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, argues that it’s possible a withdrawal of U.S. ground troop presence on the Korean Peninsula wouldn’t significantly alter the balance of power in the region:

“U.S. military deterrence against both North Korea and China is based on long-range precision strikes by cruise missiles and stealth bombers. So a reduction of ground forces in South Korea may not make too much a difference.”

This year, the U.S., South Korea, and Japan have struggled to reach a compromise on renewing a defense cost-sharing agreement that expired at the end of 2018, reportedly due to the Trump administration demanding a significant increase in Seoul’s contributions. Under the previous agreement, South Korea paid for about half the cost of soldiers’ upkeep — over $800 million a year. The Trump administration is demanding that South Korea pay for nearly the entire cost of the U.S.’ military presence.

This bill has eight bipartisan cosponsors, including five Democrats and three Republicans.


Of NoteCurrently, there are about 28,500 troops stationed on the Korean Peninsula to deter North Korean aggression — a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in an armistice, rather than a peace treaty.

Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence, recently testified to Congress that the chances of a full North Korean denuclearization appear unlikely:

“We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD [weapons of mass destruction] capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capability because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival.”

Trump isn’t the first president to push for troop reductions on the Korean Peninsula. Jimmy Carter ran for office on a promise to withdraw all ground combat forces, in part to protest South Korea’s then-autocratic government — but was stymied by resistance from the military and Congress. In 2004, George W. Bush’s defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld, shifted nearly 10,000 troops from South Korea to the Iraq border.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Bumblee_Dee)

AKA

United States and Republic of Korea Alliance Support Act

Official Title

To limit the use of funds to reduce the total number of members of the Armed Forces serving on active duty who are deployed to the Republic of Korea, and for other purposes.

    Yes, By All Means YES - Their Presence Helps Stabilizes The Region. The presence of U.S. troops on the Korean Peninsula is the only thing preventing war between North and South Korea. It’s necessary to ensure that our military stays in the region until such time as we’re sure South Korea is strong enough to defend itself and maintain the region’s stability without a U.S. military presence. SneakyPete..... 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻. 2*28*19.....
    Like (49)
    Follow
    Share
    Decrease the military industry. We spend too much on defense and not enough at home on Americans. Scale the military budget down to size, and invest in Americans.
    Like (24)
    Follow
    Share
    I am not a fan of endless war and all our crazy actions in the Middle East, but South Korea is a different story. We are obligated to help our allies and unlike the Middle East, South Korea and Japan have been true Allies and Friends to the USA. Something that is readily apparent when you visit those countries. The situation on the Korean Peninsula needs to be resolved peacefully, but I support maintaining the armistice until actual peace is made. We can’t and shouldn’t back out of our commitments there until a real peace is made.
    Like (38)
    Follow
    Share
    As a Navy member that visited Korea many times and talked to Korean soldiers and sailors, I know that if our military pulled out, there would be several results: 1) South Korea would be terrified with good reason; 2) Despite the assurances of North Korea, they along with China would wait and at the weakest time gladly invade the South and just like before, we would be immersed in another war. From my observations, pulling our troops out would be a serious miscalculation and dismantle the delicate balance that we have had since the Korean War. Shifting things so radically is a gamble that I hope you won’t take!
    Like (25)
    Follow
    Share
    Last year, #45 made a premature and bad decision when he ended military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea. We were given a preview of how disastrous it could be if we were not aiding our longtime South Korean ally. That horrendous decision was most likely on both ‘Why I Should Leave This Administration’ lists for both Marine Corps 4-star Generals, Mattis and Kelly. Thankfully, they were able to correct that huge mistake and the military exercises resumed. The Bozo-in-Chief has stepped on and dismissed so many of our Allies. It is no surprise that in 2018, Germany’s Prime Minister Merkel declared that the U.S. could not be counted as a faithful ally of the European stage and Europe “could no longer rely on U.S. protection”. That may sound okay to U.S. isolationists. However, we live in a world where nuclear weapons are in the arsenal of many unbalanced Dictators; which demands our steadfast alignment with our allies worldwide. Unfortunately, since taking office, #45 has continued to marr U.S. trustworthiness with just about all our allies on the World stage. In the end, we may find ourselves, (as sung in the famous nursery rhyme), as “the cheese stands alone”!
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    Longer if necessary. Hopefully South Korea will allow us to stay. I personally don’t trust North Korea.
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    We should build up in South Korea. And South Korea should pay the bill. Trust me when I say they can easily afford it. And arm Japan with nuclear weapons as a serious deterrent to China’s rapidly growing threats.
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    I’m for a downsizing of the military presence there and remaining if and only if South Korea wishes for us to remain with no influence from the US Administration.
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    Absolutely it should continue, and never stop. Our presence there is as vital as our presence in NATO. #MAGA
    Like (11)
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    The US should keep bases in South Korea but it may be okay to decrease the number of bases and/or troops stationed there if the experts determine what number is needed for that area of the world.
    Like (11)
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    Our military presence in Korea should continue until such time as we are fully guaranteed that North Korea no longer poses any threat to South Korea or to the world. Of course, our presence there depends to a large degree on the willingness of South Korea to want us there. But, I feel sure that our presence is a deterrent South Korea welcomes and will continue to welcome for the foreseeable future!
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    Yes. Keep military presence in South Korea.
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    Technically The two Korea’s are still at war. There was an Armistace signed in 1953/54 but that is only a cease fire! Not an end to hostilities or war! And as that war to defend South Korea “The Republic if Korea” was actually a U.N. Action. The U.N. Has not declared an end of war or hostilities to this date! There fire as the United States is not only a friend but a formal ally of The Republic of Korea it would totally be up to both the ROK and UN to decide if U.S. Forces and all other forces that are stationed there ie; Australia, Britain, Netherlands and more as it is an ongoing U.N. Intervention. Therefore as The North Koreans are continuing to play hide and seek with their nuclear and missile programs and demanding that we not only lift all sanctions and remove our forces them that tells me that they did not come to the bargaining table fully prepared to deal! Trump is so right by walking away with a smile as he won the Day! If that were Obama it say Hillary Clinton then today would have been a dark day for not only us but the world!
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    This should be vetted through JCoS. I suspect that the military will report that until a compensating control is established and tested... We're status quo
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    If we leave, N. Korea would invade S. Korea and it would be very difficult to get them out.
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    The United States of America has no right to be in any location of the Korean Peninsula. One of the reasons North Korea is in such an authoritarian state is because the United States keeps on threatening them with the continuing presence of military occupation in South Korea. This is in addition to the occupation of the Korean Peninsula being too expensive to maintain. As evil as Kim Jong-Un is, he has good reason to fear the United States. North Korea didn't drop nuclear bombs on an adversarial country. The United States did. North Korea isn't waging war on democratic governments throughout the world. The United States is. North Korea doesn't have an overwhelming military presence throughout the entire world. The United States does. If we want diplomacy with North Korea to work then the USA needs to be more friendly. We can start doing that by withdrawing our troops from the Korean Peninsula and show Kim Jong-Un that we can have a nuclear free world if we PEACEFULLY cooperate with each other.
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    The U.S. needs to stop planting our military on every single landmass in the world! This bill doesn’t even allow us to reduce troop levels. We act like we’re the world police, but we’re incredibly bad at it as demonstrated by the mess that we have created in the Middle East. Reducing our troop presence is not going to increase tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Simply having the most powerful military in the world is going to deter any kind of serious conflict in the region.
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    U.S. military presence in South Korea should be maintained through 2099 as long as there is still a declared war in the peninsula. We entered that area to prevent a friendly democracy from being overcome and destroyed, and we are still there to prevent exactly that. North Korea still attempts to build tunnels south beyond the DMZ from time to time, and could light up this war at any time. We need to remain until we are no longer needed.
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    The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is still a dangerous nation with an authoritarian leader. They have nuclear capabilities and Kim Jong Un is unpredictable. It’s better to be safe and ready, than to be sorry by being not be as prepared as we could have been if things go awry.
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    South Korea is a wealthy country. They can pay for their own military defense.
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