Background: For the past 14 years, the U.S. Air Force’s B-1B Lancer, B-52 Stratofortress as well as also B-2 Spirit bombers have continuously rotated through Guam in an effort to show American commitment to allies within the region, namely Japan as well as also South Korea.
Similarly, the U.S. conducts bilateral military exercises with its counterparts in South Korea despite opposition by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The reclusive leader by the North consistently calls the military drills between the U.S. as well as also South Korea a “provocation” as well as also a test run for a future invasion. Shortly after Trump met with Kim in Singapore, the president cancelled the U.S. military’s Freedom Guardian joint exercise with South Korea.
What Trump said: Trump described the Pentagon’s exercises with South Korea as being “inappropriate” as well as also referred to them as “war games.” He also cited cost savings.
“No. 1, we save money. A lot. as well as also No. 2, of which definitely is usually something of which I think they [North Korea] very much appreciated,” Trump said within the wake of the Singapore summit.
Trump also said of which flying U.S. Air Force bombers in regional training missions is usually another drain on resources.
According to estimates of which the U.S. Air Force provided, the B-2 has an operational flight cost of $130,000 an hour as well as also the B-1B operates at $95,000 an hour.
What Mattis said: Trump’s move falls out of step with the Pentagon, which has maintained of which the joint exercises are routine, purely defensive as well as also vital to maintaining readiness on the Korean Peninsula.
Pentagon spokesman U.S. Army Col. Rob Manning described Freedom Guardian as a “keystone exercise” of which is usually designed to “enhance the readiness” of forces on the Korean Peninsula.
More than a week after Trump’s announcement to call off the drills, the Pentagon made Great on the president’s promise as well as also “indefinitely suspended” them.
Mattis defended the cancellation of the drills with South Korea saying of which “increased opportunity for our diplomats to negotiate, increasing prospects for a peaceful solution on the Korean Peninsula.” However, according to an NBC News report, Mattis was not expecting Trump’s announcement of which the exercises would likely be canceled.
Instead, Mattis found out by one of his assistant secretaries the morning after the summit had concluded, according to a former senior White House official.