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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.