- The Washington Times - Friday, March 7, 2003

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday that he plans to move some American troops away from the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea.
"I suspect that what we'll do is we'll end up making some adjustments there," Mr. Rumsfeld said.
He described at least three options: Move troops farther south on the Korean Peninsula, place them elsewhere in Asia or send them home.
Mr. Rumsfeld's most explicit statement to date that the United States will reposition some of its 37,000 troops in South Korea could ease heightened tensions between Washington and the North. He made his remarks during a "town hall" meeting with Pentagon employees.
Pyongyang has thrust the Korean Peninsula into a crisis by restarting a nuclear weapons program, threatening aggression against the South and intercepting an American military spy plane in international air space on Sunday.
Although Mr. Rumsfeld talked of fewer troops near North Korea, the Bush administration also sent a strong signal to the Stalinist regime that the United States was prepared to blunt any invasion of the South.
The first of 24 U.S. heavy bombers have arrived in Guam. Twelve B-1Bs and as many B-52s are scheduled to deploy to the Pacific island. The Pentagon is not just showing its displeasure with the fighter planes from the North locking an RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft into their radar. It also wants to signal that a war with Iraq does not mean the United States cannot respond to any military move on the peninsula.
Mr. Rumsfeld said a redeployment is possible because South Korea's armed-forces commitment of 683,000 troops is now capable of providing "the kind of upfront deterrent that is needed."
In addition, U.S. air and sea assets can move in reinforcements, he said.
"We still have a lot of forces in Korea arranged very far forward, where it's intrusive in their lives, and where they really aren't very flexible or usable for other things," the defense secretary said.
He said the new president of South Korea, Roh Moo-hyun, has asked Washington to "look at how we might rebalance our relationship and our force structure."
The review is being spearheaded by Army Gen. Leon LaPorte, commander of U.S. Forces Korea.
The Pentagon also is looking at moving a portion of 70,000 troops in Germany to smaller bases in Eastern Europe, whose governments support President Bush's plan to forcibly disarm Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein.
China and Russia both oppose an invasion of Iraq. They let it be known yesterday they also do not agree with Mr. Bush's approach to Pyongyang.
"Russia has noted with concern the statements that have been issued recently by official American representatives that the United States doesn't exclude military means of solving the so-called North Korean nuclear problem," the Russian Foreign Ministry said yesterday.
While the South Korean president wants a troop reduction, the country's prime minister, Goh Kun, said the United States must remain to deter the communist North.
"We should never weaken the deterrence capabilities of the U.S. military," the Associated Press quoted Mr. Goh as saying. "The trip wire should remain." The prime minister's post is largely ceremonial.
North Korea maintains a huge armed forces and has nearly 1 million troops poised on or near the DMZ and armed with hundreds of artillery pieces, tanks and armored personnel carriers.
Military analysts say an invasion would be likely to result in the capturing of Seoul before U.S. and South Korean forces would be in a position to repel the invasion and attack the North.
Mr. Rumsfeld yesterday again asserted that America has the troop strength to carry out the national military requirement to fight and conquer one aggressor, while nearly simultaneously defeating a second invasion.
Most analysts say the strategy has Iraq and North Korea in mind. For the first time since the two-war strategy went into effect after the fall of the Soviet Union, U.S. military planners are faced with the possibility of war with both countries.
Seoul and Washington plan formal talks next month on troop reshaping. The two agreed last year to reduce U.S. installations from 41 to 25 over 10 years.

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