Pentagon says troop levels will stay same

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Pentagon says troop levels will stay same

The United States plans to maintain the current size of its forces in Korea at about 28,500 troops despite pending cuts to the Pentagon budget, a high-ranking government source in Seoul said yesterday.

“At official meetings between the two countries this year, officials of the U.S. Department of Defense have repeatedly assured us that the number of U.S. troops stationed here will remain on the same level,” the source said. “These U.S. officials said changes to the size of U.S. troops in the Middle East will not affect American soldiers in South Korea.”

According to the source, the two allies will likely announce their commitment to maintain the current number of U.S. troops after the upcoming Security Consultative Meeting this Friday in Seoul. The SCM is an annual meeting between the defense chiefs of Seoul and Washington.

“The United States believes expanding its influence in Asia would work to their benefits, and the alliance between South Korea and the United States has hardly been better ever before,” the source added. “At this juncture, the United States thinks reducing its troops here will go against its strategy and interests in Asia.”

Earlier Monday in Bali, Indonesia, during his Asian swing, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta reaffirmed that the United States would not cut the number of its troops in Asia and said the country would “remain a strong Pacific force in the 21st century.”

The presence of U.S. troops here is a legacy of the Korean War, which ended in an armistice, leaving the two Koreas technically at war.

Yonhap

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

패네타 미 국방장관 “미 국방예산 깎여도 주한미군 안 줄일 것”

미국 행정부가 재정적자를 줄이기 위해 국방 예산을 감축하려는 계획(향후 10년간 약 4500억 달러)과 관계없이 주한미군은 현재의 2만8500명 수준을 유지하게 될 것이라고 정부 고위 당국자가 24일 밝혔다. 이 당국자는 “미 국방 관리들이 한·미 간 공식 회의에서 국방비가 삭감되더라도 주한미군을 현행대로 유지하겠다고 확언했다”며 “오는 28일 서울에서 열리는 한·미 국방장관 간 안보협의회(SCM)의 공동성명에도 이런 내용이 포함될 것”이라고 말했다. 그는 “ 한·미 동맹이 어느 때보다 최상의 관계를 유지하고 있는 상황에서 주한미군 병력을 줄이는 것이 미국의 아시아 전략과 이익에 맞지 않는다고 판단하고 있다”고 전했다.

 취임 후 첫 아시아 순방에 나선 리언 패네타(Leon Panetta·사진) 국방장관도 지난 23일(현지시간) 발리에서 열린 동남아국가연합(아세안) 10개국 국방장관과의 회담에서 “아시아 주둔 미군을 감축하지 않을 것이라는 점을 확언한다”며 “미국은 태평양 국가로서 아시아 주둔 병력을 계속 강화할 것”이라고 말했다.

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