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US commander in South Korea says he supports plan to reduce DMZ outposts

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The top commander of U.S. troops in South Korea said on Wednesday he supports moves to withdraw some outposts along the fortified border with North Korea, despite the risks.

South Korea’s defense ministry has said it plans to reduce guard posts and equipment along the demilitarized zone (DMZ) on its border with North Korea as part of efforts to reduce tension and build trust with its northern neighbor.

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“I have some concerns about what that means militarily for the ability to defend along the Military Demarcation Line,” U.S. General Vincent Brooks told reporters on Wednesday.

But he said that the risk is “a reasonable degree” and the move represents a good opportunity to reduce tensions.

About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea, a legacy of the Korean War, which ended in 1953 in an armistice that left the North Korea technically still at war with South Korea and the U.S.-led United Nations command.

Besides serving as the commander of those troops, Brooks also commands U.N. forces, and in the case of war, would take command of South Korean troops as well.

Brooks said that his troops are finding “other ways” to maintain readiness in the absence of major military drills, which were canceled or delayed by U.S. President Donald Trump as part of a deal with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un.

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“I received no order to become unready,” he said. “Nobody told me to stand down.”

When Trump announced the plan after his summit with Kim in Singapore in June, a spokeswoman for U.S. military forces in Korea said at the time they had not received any direction to cease joint military drills.

When asked on Wednesday if he had advance warning of Trump’s June announcement, Brooks said as a commander in the field he had no expectation that he would be briefed on the president’s plans.

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“Orders come in many different ways,” he said. “So for a military commander it’s not a matter of debate, it’s a matter of implementation.”

Brooks did not elaborate on how his command had adjusted to the changes in military exercises.

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He credited the military presence in South Korea with “successfully” setting the stage for this year’s diplomatic talks with North Korea, and said he supports maintaining pressure on North Korea to prevent it from “backing up” on diplomatic steps.

Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by Michael Perry


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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GOP lawmaker mocked after whining Adam Schiff wouldn’t let her break impeachment hearing rules

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During the public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry into President Trump this Friday, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) attempted to direct a line of questions to former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, but was interrupted by Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who informed Devin Nunes (R-CA) that "under the house resolute 660, you are not allowed to yield time except to minority counsel."

As Stefanik continued to try to speak, Schiff repeatedly cut her off. "The gentlewoman will suspend," Schiff said as he swung the gavel. "You're not recognized."

"This is the fifth time you've interrupted members of Congress -- duly elected members of Congress," Stefanik protested.

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Feds now probing Giuliani’s links to Ukrainian natural gas projects – and if he profited from them

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Federal investigators are now probing the ties of the President's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, into Ukrainian energy projects, and if he stood to gain financially in a business venture headed by his two "henchmen" who are now in jail.

The two associates infamously aided Giuliani's efforts in Ukraine to launch investigations into Joe Biden and Hunter Biden in an attempt to assist President Donald Trump's re-election efforts, The Wall Street Journal reports.

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Fears grow on digital surveillance: US survey

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Americans are increasingly fearful of monitoring of their online and offline activities, both by governments and private companies, a survey showed Friday.

The Pew Research Center report said more than 60 percent of US adults believe it is impossible to go about daily life without having personal information collected by companies or the government.

Most Americans are uneasy about how their data is collected and used: 79 percent said they are not comfortable about the handling of their information by private firms, and 69 percent said the same of the government.

Seven in 10 surveyed said they think their personal data is less secure than five years ago, while only six percent said it is more secure, the report found.

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