CAMP CASEY, South Korea — Along with his reaction to China’s concern over the USS George Washington and other U.S. and South Korean warships getting ready for a naval exercise in the Yellow Sea, Defense Secretary Robert Gates touched on a number of other subjects during his Tuesday visit with soldiers here:

• Despite tensions between the North and South, the U.S. military is committed to bringing more soldiers with their families to the South Korean peninsula through extended tours and command sponsorship. “This is a place where American families would be comfortable,” Gates said.

• While the goal is for soldiers to be “one-year deployed and three years home … I think it’s still a ways away,” he said.

• Unlike the Vietnam War, in which 18-year-olds could legally drink alcohol and fight the war but not vote, today 18-year-old soldiers can vote but not drink. “I understand the frustration,” but drinking-age laws are not likely to change anytime soon, Gates said.

- Jon Rabiroff

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