As we reported earlier, the Pentagon wants South Korea to pay more money to support American troops stationed there. Several news reports now quote Richard Lawless, the deputy undersecretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, as saying that the Bush Administration may make personnel or other cuts in South Korea if it doesn’t pay 50 to 75 percent of the cost of maintaining US troops on the peninsula. Apparently, the already announced reduction of US forces, has led Seoul to think it would be paying less, not more. There also is still no agreement on a date for the switch in command from Washington to Seoul, according to Lawless. The US wants the shift to happen sooner, not later. Korea now pays 38 percent, or $680 million a year.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.