- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Pentagon is taking a “hard look” at whether to conduct planned joint exercises with South Korea as the coronavirus continues to spread throughout Asia and around the world, says the Defense Department’s top uniformed military official.

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday that the illness is a “very serious thing” and the department, alongside the South Korean military, is reviewing possible risks that the anticipated military exercises could present to service members.

“We’re taking a hard look at joint exercises with Republic of Korea Army that are coming up and whether or not they continue, postpone or are modified,” Gen. Milley said. “We’re waiting for the final recommendation of Gen. [Robert] Abrams and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff of the [Republic of Korea] Army.”

The four-star general’s comments come just one day after reports surfaced that a U.S. military member had been diagnosed with coronavirus at Camp Carroll in South Korea.

Speaking alongside Gen. Milley, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said his “first priority is protection of our people, both service members and families and then make sure we protect our ability to accomplish our mission.”

The officials told the committee they can’t yet determine whether the forces will need additional resources to manage the outbreak but are “taking all the appropriate measures and are doing the assessments of the situation.”

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