News / USA

Hagel: US Will Not Cut Forces in Korea

Secretary Hagel listens to U.S. Army Col. James Minnich as a North Korean soldier takes a photograph of the secretary through a window, Sept. 30, 2013.
Secretary Hagel listens to U.S. Army Col. James Minnich as a North Korean soldier takes a photograph of the secretary through a window, Sept. 30, 2013.
Reuters
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel toured the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on Monday, at times under the watchful eye of North Korean soldiers, and said the Pentagon had no plan to reduce its 28,500-member force in the South despite budget constraints.
 
“This is probably the only place in the world where we have always a risk of confrontation,” Hagel said after touring a single-story building with a corrugated metal roof where talks are held with North Koreans on Conference Row in the truce village of Panmunjom.
 
As Hagel walked through the building, which spans the military demarcation line between North and South, two North Korean soldiers peered through the windows on the northern side, filming his movements.
 
“There's no margin of error up here,” Hagel told reporters after walking through the structure. “It's a very important location that we need to pay attention to.”
 
Hagel also visited the hilltop Observation Post Ouellette, in the DMZ, where he looked across a valley into North Korea and received a briefing from South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin. The post is named for Private Joseph Ouellette, who won the Medal of Honor in the Korean War.
 
The U.S. defense secretary's visit to the DMZ came on the first full day of a four-day trip to South Korea to celebrate the 60th anniversary of a mutual security alliance between the two countries.
 
Hagel will participate in talks about the future of the alliance with his South Korean counterpart and will attend a change-of-command ceremony for U.S. forces in South Korea. He will be joined by Army General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Admiral Samuel Locklear, the head of U.S. Pacific Command.
 
Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, the former director of the U.S. Joint Staff, will take over as commander of U.S. forces in Korea from Army General James Thurman.
 
Commitments Stand
 
Hagel told reporters that while the Pentagon is under pressure to reduce projected spending by nearly a trillion dollars over the next decade, the U.S. military had no plan to reduce the size of U.S. forces in Korea.
 
“No, there's never been any consideration of changing our force protection or force presence here in Korea or anywhere else in this area,” said Hagel, noting U.S. President Barack Obama's desire to refocus on the Asia-Pacific after a dozen years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
 
“We'll continue to do what we've got to do to manage those [spending] reductions, [and] at the same time assure our partners... specifically here in the Asia-Pacific that our commitments still stand,” said Hagel.
 
The U.S. defense chief said he thought North Korea, which is believed to have large stockpiles of chemical weapons, had been watching developments surrounding Syria's use of chemical weapons in its civil war but that it was difficult to know what lessons Pyongyang might draw.
 
The United Nations adopted a resolution last week demanding that Syria eliminate its chemical weapons. The vote came amid outrage over a sarin gas attack in a Damascus suburb that killed hundreds. Facing the threat of U.S. military action and coaxing from Moscow, Syria agreed to surrender the arms.
 
“I think it's pretty clear that North Korea has been carefully observing the activities, especially of last week at the United Nations,” Hagel said. “Nations who possess those kinds of weapons and who are irresponsible do watch how the world responds and reacts.”
 
Before visiting the DMZ on Monday, the U.S. defense chief watched an exercise in which U.S. and South Korean troops used live ammunition and explosives to destroy an obstacle so their tanks and armored vehicles could advance.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs