HASC Marks Up NDAA with Gallego Provision Reinforcing U.S. Military Presence in South Korea
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House Armed Services Committee will mark up the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a provision originally authored by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) that would commit the United States to maintaining a robust military presence in South Korea for the foreseeable future, in order to maintain peace and stability in the region.
Rep. Gallego’s provision would require that U.S. active duty forces in the Republic of Korea not fall below 28,500 troops without a certification by the Secretary of Defense that any drop below that number is necessary to the national defense and will not significantly undermine allied security in the region.
Rep. Gallego introduced a similar provision as an amendment to last year’s NDAA, requiring a floor of 22,000 troops. That number was increased this year to mirror the current number of U.S. troops stationed in the region.
“As President Trump continues to flounder on the world stage and in his negotiations with Kim Jong-un, it is more important than ever that the United States maintains a robust military presence in Korea,” Rep. Gallego said. “We must continue to preserve the safety of our armed forces, our nation, and our allies as we work towards a lasting peace in the region.”
See below for a timeline of Rep. Gallego’s leadership on this issue:
August 2017: Rep. Gallego speaks out against Trump’s rhetoric and push for war with North Korea and urges further economic sanctions aimed at countries that continue to trade with North Korea.
September 2017: Rep. Gallego and Rep. Ted Lieu write to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis requesting a casualty estimate of a potential conflict with North Korea.
November 2017: The Pentagon responds to Reps. Gallego and Lieu advising that a ground invasion would be necessary to rid North Korea of nuclear weapons and that the United States and its allies could expect hundreds of thousands of military and civilian casualties in a war with North Korea.
December 2017: Rep. Gallego and Rep. Lieu co-author an op-ed detailing the catastrophic human costs of war with North Korea in, highlighting the incompetence and callousness of Trump’s position and the likely deaths of tens of thousands of soldiers and millions of civilians.
January 2018: Rep. Gallego and Sen. Tammy Duckworth visit South Korea and Japan and spend four days meeting with America’s top military leaders and diplomats in the region, with Defense and Foreign Affairs Ministers from Japan and South Korea, with North Korean defectors, human rights activists, and American servicemembers. They also toured the Demilitarized Zone (“DMZ”) on the border with North Korea.
January 2018: Rep. Gallego and Sen. Duckworth brief reporters regarding grave concerns about President Trump’s handling of the situation in North Korea following their trip to the region.
January 2018: Rep. Gallego and Rep. Lieu co-author an op-ed pushing back on irresponsible pushes by conservative intellectuals to bomb North Korea.
May 2018: Rep. Gallego introduces an amendment to the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act that would ensure that U.S. active duty forces in the Republic of Korea will not fall below 22,000 troops without a certification by the Secretary of Defense that any drop below that number is necessary to the national defense and will not significantly undermine allied security in the region. The amendment is approved by unanimous consent and is passed into law.
June 2018: Rep. Gallego hosts South Korean Ambassador Cho Yoon-je to discuss the tenuous situation on the Korean peninsula and how Congress and the United States can continue to secure the peace through mutual defense with its close South Korean friend and ally.
June 2018: Rep. Gallego sends a letter to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis demanding clarity and basic facts concerning President Trump’s decision to unilaterally cancel military exercises with South Korea.
July 2018: Rep. Gallego and Armed Services Committee Democrats write to President Trump demanding details of the Administration’s supposed plan to achieve denuclearization within one year, including whether Trump will consider the imposition of new sanctions or the resumption of military exercises with South Korea following reports that the Kim regime’s nuclear program has continued unabated.
July 2018: President Trump signs the FY2019 NDAA into law, including Rep. Gallego’s provision ensuring that active U.S. troop levels in the Republic of Korea remain above 22,000 unless Secretary Mattis certifies that our national security and that of our allies would not be diminished by a reduction in that number.
December 2018: Rep. Gallego and Rep. Mike Gallagher introduce the Telecommunications Denial Order Enforcement Act, a bill that would mandate severe penalties on Chinese state-directed companies Huawei and ZTE if they are found to have violated U.S. sanctions, including secondary sanctions relating to China’s support for North Korea.
January 2019: Rep. Gallego and Armed Services Committee Democrats request a resumption of military exercises with South Korea to support the links between our countries and to prevent North Korean attempts to take advantage of the Trump Administration’s incompetence and naiveite to drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington.
February 2019: Rep. Gallego welcomes Speaker Moon Hae-sang to Congress to meet with fellow Members of the Korea Caucus to discuss measures to continue and deepen the U.S.-South Korea relationship.
Rep. Gallego is a Marine Corps combat veteran who served in Iraq. He serves on the House Armed Services Committee.