Saturday, January 06, 2018

Stand Down

On the surface, this decision lowers tensions by granting North Korea a concession that is also appealing to South Korea which wants quiet Winter Olympics next month:

U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in have agreed "to de-conflict the Olympics and our military exercises" to ensure the security of the upcoming Winter Games, the White House said in a statement on Thursday.

So we won't conduct our joint exercises during the Olympics and following Paralympics.

Certainly, this buys some time for diplomacy with North Korea.

And South Korea no doubt appreciates the gesture.

But as I wrote last month, it could also represent a stand down not for diplomacy and international sporting, but for performing maintenance on military assets to have maximum availability for military action in March.

Mattis says it is all about logistics:

The idea is that for logistics reasons to just to keep everything smooth there, we're not going to be running exercises, defensive wholly defensive exercises as always. They're not offensive. We're not going to run them at the same time.

There's enough traffic on the roads, enough people trying to get around the country to the various locations not to run truck convoys and military exercises and shut down roads -- all the normal things that are associated with military exercises. We will deconflict all the way through the Paralympics and probably not just to that moment but a day or so afterwards, you know, as people depart for home.

And then after that we'll work it out, ROK to U.S. government, and our militaries will work it out. They are the host country, and we have always done this sort of thing if they had something come up natural, you know, bad weather or whatever that caused them more logistics problems. This is not that unusual.

Is it about logistics in the sense that the South Korean infrastructure can't handle supporting traffic for the sporting events and military exercises? That seems unlikely given that in case of war military movements on a far greater scale than exercises would take place along with massive civilian movements as people fled Seoul and other dangerous areas.

Or could it be logistics in the sense of a stand down to raise availability rates prior to post-Paralympics action if needed?

But I am far from corridors of power, so I have no idea what this means.