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Pacific commanders worry cuts will harm readiness against North Korea

SEOUL — The new commander of U.S. Forces Korea told a recent Army forum that while soldiers on the peninsula have been little affected by budget cuts so far, he worries further cuts could decrease readiness if there were a crisis with North Korea, Military.com reported. “We’ve been fortunate, we’ve seen little impact,” Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, who assumed command on Oct. 2, said at an Association of the U.S. Army forum on Oct. 22, according to the Military.com report. USFK is just beginning to see the effects of sequestration, particularly in outreach programs aimed at South Koreans, he said.

Such programs, are considered critical by military commanders because they serve as a bridge to a South Korean public that often only hears about the misdeeds of U.S. troops.

According to Military.com, Scaparrotti said his main concern is how the projected $52 billion in sequester cuts, set to begin in January, will affect USFK. He said he would rely heavily on forces being funneled to the peninsula through U.S. Army Pacific in case of a North Korean attack, but those forces have been affected by sequestration.

Gen. Vincent Brooks, commander of USARPAC, said at the forum that he worries more about the effects of the sequester on the U.S. Air Force. “We’ve got to be aligned with somebody to fly us to Korea” during a conflict situation, Military.com quoted him as saying.

While the full impacts of the sequester have yet to hit the Army in the Pacific, he said he has had to cancel a training exercise with Japan and bigger upcoming exercises in the region could be affected next year.

rowland.ashley@stripes.com

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