Fewer Troops Won't Reduce Deterrence in South Korea, Rumsfeld Says
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 8, 2004 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is "not one slight bit" worried that fewer U.S. troops in South Korea will mean a reduced deterrent capability on the peninsula.
U.S. officials have announced they plan to reduce the number of U.S. troops stationed in the Republic of Korea by 12,500 over the next several years, starting with 5,000 moving out by the end of 2004.
But officials have done careful analysis, and fewer of today's forces, with modern weapons systems, are just as capable as far superior numbers of yesterday's forces, Rumsfeld said in a Sept. 7 Pentagon press conference.
"The important thing is, in the 21st century if one takes numbers (of forces) and tries to equate them with old numbers from the 20th century, they make a mistake because the implication is if the number is lower, that you're weaker, and it's simply not true," said he noted. "The capabilities that we have there (today) are vastly more capable than the exact same number of people were five, 10, 15 years ago."
The Defense Department is investing $11 billion in enhancing more than 100 specific military capabilities in the region at the same time it's reducing the number of troops in South Korea. Rumsfeld said that investment allows for the United States to provide for a "healthy deterrent" on the peninsula.
"Let there be no doubt that that's the case," he stressed.
In response to a question from a reporter, Rumsfeld said the United States understands the threat posed by communist North Korea and has no intention of allowing a power vacuum to develop in the region. "And any suggestion to the contrary would be a fundamental mistake," he said.