The Pentagon says next month's Freedom Guardian exercise with South Korea would have cost about $14 million, one month after President Trump said canceling the exercise would "save a fortune."
When President Trump announced the end to “war games” following his meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un last month, he complained the large-scale exercises were needlessly provocative and too expensive.
We save a fortune by not doing war games, as long as we are negotiating in good faith - which both sides are!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2018
Holding back the “war games” during the negotiations was my request because they are VERY EXPENSIVE and set a bad light during a good faith negotiation. Also, quite provocative. Can start up immediately if talks break down, which I hope will not happen!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 17, 2018
The Pentagon provided the dollar figure after first telling the Washington Examiner last month that it did not know how much the exercise cost.
The military “indefinitely suspended” the annual computer exercises along with two smaller training programs last month, to provide “space for diplomacy,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said.
While Pentagon officials could not provide a number for the overall cost of all military exercises, they conceded the $14 million is a tiny fraction of what is spent on training U.S. troops worldwide. The Defense Department also says skipping a single exercise won't harm the readiness of U.S. and South Korean forces.
“These exercises are about enhancing readiness and interoperability, but the high state of readiness of our forces and our ability to fight tonight will not be impacted by this one exercise not occurring,” said Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman.
“This one exercise, Freedom Guardian, will not impact the ability of our fighter pilots being able to fly, our infantry being able to shoot, move and communicate, and our ability to navigate the waterways,” Manning said.
Manning declined to say if any planning had been done to be ready to resume military drills if North Korea reneges on its commitment to dismantle is nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program.
“I’m going to leave that to our commander in chief and the national leadership to decide,” Manning said. “Certainly they can make a decision whether or not those drills are reinstated if they decide to do so based on North Korea’s actions.”