President Donald Trump’s decision to suspend joint U.S.-South Korean military operations amid peace talks with North Korea has halted a major war game that would normally include a brigade of Georgia-based troops.
Called “Ulchi Freedom Guardian,” the annual exercise began in 1976 and is designed to boost troop readiness. It was scheduled to happen next month. Last year, about 17,500 U.S. service members and allies took part in the event, according to the U.S. Defense Department.
Georgia’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division deployed to the Seoul area in February and was preparing to participate in the war game before it was suspended.
Trump announced in Singapore last month he was halting such military exercises so North Korea would give up its nuclear weapons. His decision reportedly surprised the Pentagon and U.S. allies.
Critics doubt North Korea will follow through with denuclearization, noting how it has repeatedly broken such promises in the past. On Saturday, The Washington Post reported U.S. intelligence officials have concluded the nation does not intend to fully surrender its weapons and instead is mulling ways to conceal them.
Along with Ulchi Freedom Guardian, the Pentagon has suspended two Korean Marine Exchange Program training exercises, saying “additional decisions will depend upon North Korea continuing to have productive negotiations in good faith.”
Meanwhile, Georgia’s “Raider Brigade” is keeping busy, despite the suspension of war games, said a spokesman for the unit.
“Our brigade normally participates in Ulchi Freedom Guardian, which has been suspended, but we continue to train our soldiers, maintain our equipment, and develop our leaders, just like we would at Fort Stewart or anywhere else,” Maj. Pete Bogart, the brigade’s public affairs officer, said in an email.
The brigade is planning to return to Georgia sometime between October and November.