Recent figures show that the United States has sharply increased the number of its troops in South Korea, Press TV reports. Figures released by the US Department of Defense show that over 37,000 US soldiers are stationed in South Korea, which is roughly 9,000 more than what the two countries had agreed in 2008. On Thursday, South Korea and the US forces successfully completed an annual war game codenamed ‘Key Resolve’, amid high military tension with North Korea, announcing that they would continue to maintain high alert in the wake of fresh threats of attack from Pyongyang. While officials in Washington assert that the US military presence in the Korean Peninsula is aimed at deterring North Korea, analysts believe the move is meant to contain China.
“This strategy is also intended to check and contain China which is the original concept,” Cheong Wook-sik from the Peace Network organization said.On March 18, US Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter promised to provide South Korea with every military resource it needs at a time of heightened tension with North Korea and that budget cuts in Washington will not affect Seoul as a defense priority. However, many South Koreans are worried about the financial burdens, as South Korea’s spending on US forces has been rising steadily in recent years. Seoul is expected to spend almost USD 770 million on the United States Forces Korea (USFK) in 2013 while that figure could rise to over USD 900 million for the next year. PG/JR/SS