Defense Secretary Mark Esper and his South Korean counterpart said Monday that already-curtailed joint training exercises could be cut back again or possibly postponed because of the novel coronavirus outbreak on the peninsula.
“The situation is quite serious,” Esper said. One U.S. military dependent has tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus, and there are at least 13 confirmed cases among South Korean service members.
At a joint Pentagon press briefing with South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo, Esper said that Army Gen. Robert Abrams, commander of U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), is “looking at scaling back” training exercises with Republic of Korea (ROK) forces until the coronavirus cases are contained.
Jeong said Abrams is coordinating with Gen. Park Han-ki, chairman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, on how training exercises might be curtailed or rescheduled, but stressed that any changes would not affect overall readiness.