The Trump administration is set to announce the end of large-scale drills the U.S. military conducts with South Korea every spring, according to a new report.
Two U.S. defense officials told NBC News Friday about the impending announcement. Their report indicated that the two drills in question — which are referred to as Key Resolve and Foal Eagle — will eventually be replaced with smaller-scale training exercises tailored to specific missions.
The Pentagon had announced in November that the U.S. was still scheduled to participate in Foal Eagle, though in a diminished capacity. This decision appears to have cancelled it altogether.
Opting to end these drills with South Korea is part of President Donald Trump’s plan to foster a more positive relationship with North Korea, the officials said.
Senior defense officials told NBC News that those two exercises were both for ensuring troops from both countries remained vigilant and for deterring potential aggression from neighboring North Korea.
“The U.S. has identified ways to mitigate potential readiness concerns by looking at required mission tasks versus having to conduct large-scale exercises,” one official told NBC News.
Trump has previously tweeted that he considers these “war games” with South Korea to be a waste of money.
Those tweets came a day after then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said there were no plans to cancel future joint-training exercises with South Korea.
In October, the U.S. suspended “Vigilant Ace,” an annual air exercise held every December.
As of late January, the U.S. and South Korea were gridlocked on a new deal to share the costs of housing the 28,000 American troops stationed in that country.
Trump just met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam. In the lead-up to their summit, South Korean officials expressed concern about the future of their alliance with the U.S.
In December, Pyongyang announced that it would not give up its arsenal of nuclear weapons until it no longer considered the U.S. to be what it called a nuclear threat.