Bolton: Reports of US Drawdown in South Korea ‘Nonsense’

Pentagon denies getting orders to prepare for troop cuts

National Security Adviser John Bolton has issued a statement Friday denying that President Trump is planning to reduce the number of US troops in South Korea. Bolton referred to a New York Times report to that effect from Thursday night as “utter nonsense.”

John Bolton

The report said President Trump had ordered the Pentagon to prepare different options for a drawdown. This was said to be based on efforts toward a deal ending the Korean War, and the reality that 30,000 US troops wouldn’t need to be in South Korea if the war is over.

While this didn’t mean a drawdown was imminent, officials are denying the claim. Indeed, the Pentagon issued its own statement Friday saying that they’d never received any such order to make plans.

Whether that is true or not remains to be seen. It is unsurprising that the administration wouldn’t want knowledge of the drawdown planning being public ahead of a planned North Korea summit. Still, such a drawdown would be an obvious move if a peace deal is reached. Given how many plans the Pentagon is drawing up at any given time, it would be irresponsible for them not to be considering reductions of US troop levels in South Korea.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.