U.S. Saves Money by Keeping Troops in S. Korea: U.S. Think Tank
Note: Trump forgets the billions of dollars that go into defense industry contracts, which largely benefit U.S. firms from close military ties between Seoul and Washington. With more of Trump rhetoric, U.S. firms like Boeing may lose out to non-U.S. firms like Airbus. Oh, Donald.
WASHINGTON, Nov. 1 (Yonhap) -- The United States is saving money by keeping troops in South Korea rather than at home, a U.S. think tank said Tuesday, rejecting Donald Trump's long-running claims that the U.S. is losing money by stationing troops in the Asian ally.
The American Action Forum (AAF) also said in a report, titled "Burden-Sharing With Allies," that the U.S. should not underestimate the "contributions of these host nations, in whatever form, that enable the American projection of power around the world."
"In South Korea, it is likely that the United States is actually saving money by stationing troops there rather than at home. U.S. military bases overseas are not only strategically valuable; they are cost effective as well," the report said.
About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea to deter North Korean aggression, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. Seoul pays about half the costs, about US$900 million a year, to help finance the troop presence.
But Trump has called for Seoul to pay more, arguing the U.S. should be prepared to pull out of the country unless it agrees to pay up. U.S. officials, including Gen. Vincent Brooks, commander of U.S. forces in Korea, have said it would cost more to keep those troops stationed in the U.S. than it does in Korea.
"When Donald Trump says, 'We protect so many different countries. We get nothing,' it is important to consider both the monetary and strategic aspects of that assertion," the AAF report said. "First, the fact is, host nations like Germany, Japan, and South Korea do pay for some of the cost of U.S. military facilities — often a significant portion."
Allies are already spending hundreds of millions of dollars every year to support American military bases in their countries, and security alliances "go far beyond basic calculations of money and resources to considerations of strategy and interests," the report said.
"With revanchist Russian aggression and the renewed importance of the NATO alliance in Europe and the Chinese military build-up and North Korean nuclear ambition in Asia, the importance of the peacetime U.S. military presence in Germany, Japan, and South Korea has perhaps never been more clear," it said.'