The chief of U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) on Wednesday dismissed concerns that the recent decision by Seoul and Washington to suspend their combined military exercises would lead to an end of all other drills and weaken deterrence capabilities.
Gen. Vincent Brooks defended the decision, voicing hopes that the suspension of the exercises will help the allies build trust with North Korea and add "greater effectiveness" in ongoing talks on the communist state's denuclearization.
"I don't anticipate that this is an end of all exercises and training as we know it, but rather these visible exercises that are right up front that may cause unnecessary irritation at a time when the need for trust building is so important," he said during an alliance forum in Seoul.
"I will eliminate the doubt and concerns about all military training going away. I don't have any such instruction coming my way. I don't feel that is the spirit of our leaders but rather to create a room for them to be able to navigate the way forward as I said ... to give them room if this helps set the conditions for them to have greater effectiveness in their dialogue and discussions," he added.
To facilitate ongoing denuclearization dialogue with Pyongyang, the allies have decided to indefinitely suspend the Korea Marine Exercise Program and the annual combined Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills, which were slated to kick off next month and in August, respectively.
The move triggered speculation that Seoul and Washington could halt all other drills together in a way that would undermine the decadeslong security alliance and damage their military preparedness while the North has yet to take crucial steps toward denuclearization. (yonhap)