Donald Trump's halt of 'war games' could weaken defenses in Korea

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WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump‘s decision to suspend major US military exercises in South Korea could weaken allied defenses, depending on the length and scope of the hiatus. But the potential for diplomatic damage seems even greater.

The United States, South Korea and Japan were making a public display of solidarity Thursday over the outcome of Trump’s summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. But analysts and former officials with experience in US-Asia policy were shaken by Trump’s failure to inform the Asian allies _ or even the Pentagon _ before mothballing the military maneuvers.

“Those exercises are critically important because they are deterrence,” said Chuck Hagel, a former defense secretary in the Obama administration. He welcomed Trump’s willingness to talk to Kim but worried that the president has underestimated the complications he has introduced for the Pentagon by suspending the military drills.

“You don’t just shut them on and off like a water faucet,” he said.

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