By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 (Yonhap) — The U.S. defense budget bill for next year seeks to prevent a reduction of U.S. troop levels in South Korea, a U.S. congressional record showed Thursday.
According to the Conference Report on the defense budget, the U.S. Congress seeks to prevent the use of the national defense budget to reduce the number of U.S. Forces Korea from the current level of 28,500.
“None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act may be used to reduce the total number of members of the Armed Forces serving on active duty who are deployed to South Korea below 28,500,” the National Defense Authorization Act said, according to the conference report.
A conference report is an agreement on legislation that results from negotiations between the House of Representatives and the Senate.
President Donald Trump has suggested a possible reduction of U.S. troops in South Korea, possibly as a bargaining chip in burden-sharing talks with South Korea. But some still believed a reduction may be possible as part of the U.S.’ global defense posture realignment.
According to the defense budget bill, the U.S. government may still reduce its troop level in South Korea, but only 90 days after the defense secretary “certifies” to the U.S. Congress that a reduction will not undermine the national security interests of the United States or its allies in the region.
The defense secretary must also have “appropriately consulted with allies of the United States, including South Korea and Japan, regarding such a reduction,” the report said.