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S. Korea worries over Pentagon’s budget woes

Joint training exercises disrupted by squeeze

- The Washington Times - Friday, March 21, 2014

South Korean officials are increasingly concerned that uncertainty surrounding the Pentagon's defense budget may disrupt the country's ability to plan for joint military training exercises.

The concern stems from an incident that took place in 2013, the same year that South Korea made history by participating with Japan in an Alaska-based joint military exercise for the first time.

But the Pentagon was forced to cancel some of its training exercises, citing budget pressures from the "sequester" spending cuts.

South Korea Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Hyungchul Kim, speaking at an Arlington event hosted by the Mitchell Institute, said Friday Seoul wants advance notice of possible cancellations in upcoming joint exercises, preferably up to a year ahead of any cancellations.

Last year, the Pentagon scrapped a two-week training exercise in Alaska that would have allowed Canada, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. to practice close air support missions and offensive counter-air interdiction together.

Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren called South Korea and other U.S. allies are "aware of the budget constraints that we face and they often, in their own nations, face budget constraints.”

 “These are things that we work through routinely," he said.

The U.S. military participates in numerous bilateral training exercises with South Korea, such as the Max Thunder joint exercise, which takes place at Kunsan Air Base on the west side of the country.

Concerns surrounding joint training military exercises have arisen not long after the Pentagon submitted its fiscal 2015. budget, which exceeds the sequestration spending caps over five years by $115 billion. It has yet to be seen if Congress will embrace that plan.

 

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