(LEAD) U.S. House passes annual defense policy bill including USFK troop maintenance


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By Song Sang-ho

WASHINGTON, June 14 (Yonhap) — The House of Representatives on Friday approved an annual defense policy bill that calls for maintaining 28,500 American troops in South Korea and reaffirming the United States’ deterrence commitment to the Asian ally.

In a 217-199 vote, the House passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2025, which authorizes US$895.2 billion for national defense discretionary programs, an increase of $9 billion from fiscal year 2024.

Congress passes the bill each year to set defense policy and funding priorities and give guidance on a range of key security matters.

The bill highlighted the “sense of Congress” that the U.S. secretary of defense should reinforce the alliance with South Korea by maintaining the presence of 28,500 U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) personnel, enhancing defense industrial cooperation and affirming the U.S.’ commitment to extended deterrence.

Extended deterrence refers to the U.S.’ pledge to use the full range of its military capabilities, including nuclear, to defend its ally.

Before its finalization, the defense bill is set to go through a series of congressional procedures, including the process of narrowing gaps between the House and Senate and merging their respective versions of the bill.

On Friday, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 22-3 to advance its version of the NDAA to the Senate floor.

The legislation has gained renewed attention in South Korea as questions have lingered over whether former President Donald Trump, if reelected, would threaten to draw down or pull out U.S. troops from Korea to pressure Seoul to take a greater share of the cost for stationing USFK.

This photo, taken on May 21, 2024, shows AH-64 Apache helicopters at Camp Humphreys, a sprawling U.S. base in Pyeongtaek, 65 kilometers south of Seoul. (Yonhap)

This photo, taken on May 21, 2024, shows AH-64 Apache helicopters at Camp Humphreys, a sprawling U.S. base in Pyeongtaek, 65 kilometers south of Seoul. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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