- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper hasn’t publicly announced any plans to reduce the number of U.S. troops in South Korea but his chief spokesman at the Pentagon indicated large-scale troop rotations rather than maintaining permanent overseas bases is the way of the future.

With its global focus, the Department of Defense has been reviewing its force posture in places like Europe and the Middle East. Some of these regions have seen a large U.S. military presence for decades, Pentagon officials said.

“The Secretary’s goal is to remove some of the footprint of having forces forward deployed,” chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said Tuesday. “That will allow us to bring them back, work on readiness issues and be flexible.”

President Trump has regularly complained about having a large U.S. military presence in foreign countries, saying the American troops should be returned stateside.

Rotating units to additional foreign countries will allow American military personnel more opportunity to train alongside more allies, Mr. Hoffman said.

“It gives us flexibility and makes us a little bit more unpredictable,” he said.

The purpose behind any change will be to ensure the Department of Defense is supporting future missions from Congress and the president. Any change in force posture will be done in coordination with U.S. allies, Mr. Hoffman said.

“This is a continuous process,” he said.

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