Gen. Robert Abrams, looks at the stage as he testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. Gen. Abrams is appointed to take charge of the AMERICAN and allied forces in South Korea. He says that the decision to withdraw a number of large military exercises on the Korean peninsula this year, caused a slight decline in the willingness of the Us armed forces. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
WASHINGTON – The decision to cancel military exercises on the Korean peninsula this year, caused a slight decline in the ability of American and Korean forces to work together and remain ready to fight, the AMERICAN general nominated to take command of the troops in South Korea said against the senators Tuesday.
Gen. Robert Abrams said that the commanders of the plans of a number of smaller staff-exercises for building the capacity of the AMERICAN and allied forces to work together. And he was noncommittal on the question of whether the major exercises are currently planned for next year will be held.
“I think that the temporary suspension of the exercises that were previously scheduled for August and September were a prudent risk on the basis of the chance to make additional diplomatic efforts and negotiations between the United States and north korea,” said Abrams, the use of an abbreviation for North Korea. “The future we know in nature by the non-execution of the training and the exercises that there will be a decline of the willingness and the ability and interoperability of the combined forces.”
He said that any decision on the major exercises planned for next spring will be made by the allied leaders. But Abrams also warned that Pyongyang continues to pose a significant military threat of nuclear and conventional capabilities and “America must remain clear-eyed about the situation on the ground and let diplomacy work.”
President Donald Trump caught the military leaders by surprise in June when he announced the suspension of the large military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea, in the wake of his landmark summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un in June. He has criticized the war games as a costly and provocative, said late last month that there was no reason to spend a lot of money to give to the exercises. But he also warned that the u.s. could “immediately” relaunch of the exercises, if necessary, again.
The cancellation is an olive branch to Pyongyang, which has long complained that the exercises of the invasion of the preparations. Was there any hope that the gesture of the racks fall exercises would promote goodwill and help nudge the North in the denuclearization talks. But outside of the returning of the potential remains approximately 55 U.S. troops missing from the Korean War, and the continuation of the suspension in its missile and nuclear tests, there is little traffic from the North.
Secretary of defense Jim Mattis told reporters last month that the exercises scheduled for the spring could go on, but said no final decision has been taken. Other military officials have said that the planning is continued, because the war games months of preparation.
Senators on Tuesday spent a large part of their time quizzes Abrams about North Korea, including how difficult it would be for the evacuation of civilians from the peninsula in the event of an attack. Abrams agreed it would be a “wicked problem”, but said there are plans in place and they are nominated two times per year.
Asked whether the US should have American troops serve in South Korea without their families, Abram said that all options should be considered, but he would want for his own risk assessment. If this is confirmed for the new post, he said that his highest priority would be to perform a full assessment of the military’s war-fighting ability in Korea.
Abrams would replace Army Gen. Vincent Brooks, the outgoing commander, who has been in Korea since the spring of 2016.
A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Abrams has multiple combat tours including in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan and is currently head of U.S. Army Forces Command. He comes from a storied military family: his father and two brothers all served in the Army. His father, Gene. Creighton Abrams, Jr., commanded military operations in Vietnam for over four years, and was chief of staff of the Army. The Army called the M1 Abrams tank after him.