Now, of course the title of this missive will open me up to vicious criticism before anyone even reads what is being said. I think here in America, we pride ourselves in being able to have open, and intellectual, discourse presenting opposing points of view and perspectives. As a retired military officer, one who was stationed on the Korean peninsula in 1995 with the Second Infantry Division, I have grave concerns when political leaders, and elected officials, use our military to mask their fiscal irresponsibility, or use our military capability/capacity as a bargaining chip. That has, and never will, end up well.
Therefore, let me state clearly: I do not agree with President Trump’s statement on ending our “war games,” or reducing our forces’ footprint on the Korean peninsula. Matter of fact, if that was a point of order presented by North Korea, that was not North Korea making that demand, it was China.
As reported by the Army Times:
“Major U.S. military exercises with South Korea have been ‘suspended indefinitely,’ Agence France Presse reported Thursday, citing a senior U.S. official. The Pentagon did not immediately comment on the report. However the department has repeatedly indicated over the last two days that it was working toward fulfilling President Donald Trump’s direction that the exercises be cancelled. “We are working to fulfill the President’s guidance. The Department of Defense is aligned and continues to work with the White House to ensure we provide options that meet the President’s intent,” Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Lt. Col. Christopher Logan said in a statement.
After meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un in Singapore earlier this week, Trump called the military exercises “provocative” and said the U.S. would stop conducting them if North Korea carries out its pledge to denuclearize. On Wednesday, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said he was not concerned by the president’s move to suspend major exercises with South Korea. “I support our exercises and joint training,” he said. “But I also believe it’s important to give these negotiations a chance . . . I don’t see these as provocative, but obviously it is something that North Korea has complained about.”
There is nothing “provocative” about our military readiness, or exercises honing the tactics, techniques, and procedures of our deployed forces. If there’s anything provocative, it’s been the antics, and actions, of the Chinese in the South China Sea — actually illegal — and those of North Korea. We should never compromise our military readiness, and capability. The North Koreans have been complaining about our combined military exercises with South Korea forever. They did when I was stationed there. At least, now, we are not writing them aid checks when they ramp up their belligerent actions, and rhetoric. However, we should never degrade our capability, especially if you believe in “peace through strength.”
A president of these United States should never conflate cost with military readiness. The Obama administration did, and look at what happened via sequestration, something that should have never happened. The primary responsibility of our federal government is to provide for the common defense. That can be done in a cost-effective manner, by reducing the size, and scope, of the defense bureaucracy and the out of control acquisition and procurement system. We should never terminate, cancel, or suspend our military readiness exercises and use the excuse of saving money, cost, as a reason.
Simply stated, no foreign policy can be sustained without a credible military deterrent. As well, our troops forward deployed know why they are in South Korea. They, just as I did back in 1995, when I peered across into North Korea, understand their task and purpose. The enemy, North Korea, exists. To offer up the withdrawal of our forces from the Korean peninsula is a grand strategic mistake. Obama’s folly in Iraq should have been example enough.
Our men and women in the military do not want to come home until the mission is accomplished, and the mission has not been accomplished in North Korea, or with China. I’m not saying that we are the world’s police force, but we do have strategic alliances, and should not acquiesce in any manner or degree.
Kim Jong Un is still a violent maniacal dictator. The language a dictator comprehends is that of might and strength. We have not seen any proof-positive or verifiable actions, causing us to believe that we can trust Kim Jong Un. Until there are major conditions met by North Korea, and China, we should not be talking about “suspension” of military readiness exercises, nor US troop reductions on the Korean peninsula.Let me state clearly: I do not agree with President Trump's statement on ending our 'war games,' or reducing our forces footprint on the Korean peninsula. Click To Tweet
The summit was a first step, a beginning. Now comes the hard work of laying down the conditions, and timeline, for what we seek. Yes, the issue of North Korea’s human rights violations have to be a part of the discussion. Words are important, and there is nothing “provocative” about having a trained, and ready, force. As a matter of fact, that is why we are conducting Combined and Joint Special Operations military exercises from Poland into the Baltic States. Being ready to thwart the aggression of an enemy is not provocative, it is what you should be doing. What is provocative is weakness, and that is why, after the previous administration, we have found ourselves in this decaying global security situation.
American military, economic, and diplomatic strength is an antidote to the disease of the global jihadist movement along with the rise of the new axis powers of China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. We are restoring American leadership. That means we do not give ground. It means that we have the best equipped, capable, trained, and ready military force. That is not the language of warmongering, it is fact when dealing with brutal despots.
During his 22 year career in the United States Army, Lieutenant Colonel West served in several combat zones and received many honors including a Bronze Star, three Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals, one with Valor device, and a Valorous Unit Award.
In November of 2010, Allen was elected to the United States Congress, representing Florida’s 22nd District.
West is a commissioned officer in the Texas State Guard. He’s Fox News Contributor, former Director of the Booker T. Washington Initiative at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Senior Fellow at the Media Research Center, contributing columnist for Townhall.com, and author of Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Family, Faith and Freedom, and, Hold Texas, Hold the Nation: Victory or Death, and the forthcoming We Can Overcome.