A key Republican Senator insisted the Pentagon begin moving American military dependents out of South Korea, citing a potentially looming conflict with North Korea.
Sen. Lindsay Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and retired Air Force JAG officer, said he will also urge the Defense Department not to send any more spouses or children.
“It’s crazy to send spouses and children to South Korea, given the provocation of North Korea. South Korea should be an unaccompanied tour,” Graham said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” ”So, I want them to stop sending dependents, and I think it’s now time to start moving American dependents out of South Korea.”
Currently there are around 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea in part to deter potential aggression from the North.
A relative calm on the peninsula ended last week when North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that some experts say demonstrate the Hermit Kingdom’s capability to strike nearly all of North America. It was the most powerful weapons test from the rogue nation to date.
The alarming launch was possibly a message to President Donald Trump who just a week earlier had returned North Korea to a list of terror sponsors.
Graham also lauded the Trump administration’s ability to work through an increasingly complex, and tense, situation with North Korea.
“He’s got the best national security team of anybody I have seen since I have been in Washington,” he said. “I think we’re really running out of time. The Chinese are trying, but ineffectively. If there’s an underground nuclear test, then you need to get ready for a very serious response by the United States.”
National Security Adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster told Fox News Sunday that the president is prepared to take military action against North Korea, but is favoring a diplomatic channel with China, Russia, and other nations to ratchet up economic pressure to stymie Kim Jong-un’s nuclear ambitions.
Amid the growing tensions, the U.S. and South Korea launched a massive joint military air exercise on Monday. Vigilant Ace, the five-day exercise includes 12,000 U.S. military personnel and 230 aircraft including six F-22s and 18 F-35—both platforms are stealth capable.
According to U.S. Pacific Command, the annual exercise is “designed to enhance interoperability between U.S. and Republic of Korea forces and increase the combat effectiveness of both nations.”