Report: John Kelly Stopped Trump From Pulling US Troops Out Of South Korea

Bullet Points

President Donald Trump wanted to withdraw all American troops from the Korean Peninsula earlier this year but White House Chief of Staff John Kelly talked him out of it, NBC News reports.


  • Two White House officials told NBC that Trump and Kelly had a "heated exchange" after the president proposed pulling all U.S. troops out of South Korea on the eve of February's Winter Olympics.
  • The officials claimed "Kelly strongly — and successfully — dissuaded Trump from ordering the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula," according to NBC News.
  • Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general who has served as chief of staff since July 2017, "portrays himself to Trump administration aides as the lone bulwark against catastrophe, curbing the erratic urges of a president who has a questionable grasp on policy issues and functions of the government," current and former White House officials told NBC News.
  • NBC News also reports that "Trump and Kelly seem to have tired of each other," and that some current and former White House officials expect the chief of staff to step down by July. Kelly has also been quoted calling the president "an idiot."
  • Last August, the Associated Press reported that Kelly and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, also a retired Marine general, "agreed in the earliest weeks of Trump's presidency that one of the should remain in the United States at all times to keep tabs on the orders rapidly emerging from the White House."
  • Approximately 30,000 American troops are currently stationed in South Korea, most along the border with North Korea. Trump has expressed his desire to end the U.S. military mission on the Peninsula before.
  • The Washington Post reported in March that the president "seemed to threaten to pull U.S. troops stationed in South Korea if he didn't get what he wanted on trade with Seoul" during a fundraising event in Missouri.
  • "We lose money on trade, and we lose money on the military," Trump said at the event. "We have right now 32,000 soldiers on the border between North and South Korea. Let's see what happens."
  • Tensions on the Peninsula appear to be thawing. On Friday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in person for the first time. Many credit Trump with persuading Pyongyang to come to the negotiating table.

WATCH NEXT:

This post is part of BULLET POINTS, our running SITREP of the military stories you need to read now. Sign up for more updates in your inbox here.

US Navy

The Navy has posthumously awarded aviator and aircrewman wings to three sailors killed in last week's shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

"The selfless acts of heroism displayed by these young Sailors the morning of Dec. 6 are nothing short of incredible," Chief of Naval Air Training Rear Adm. Daniel Dwyer said in a statement.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Melissa I. Ugalde)

Ah, Heartbreak Ridge, the creme de la' creme of moto-movies that gave us such gems as: "Recon platoon kicks butt!" and the tried-and-tested method of firing a bunch of AK rounds at your Marines and calling it a teachable moment.

Read More Show Less
Soldiers deploy concertina wire in a location along the Southwest border of the United States near Hidalgo, Texas. U.S. Army North is deployed to the southwest border under the authority of U.S. Northern Command to support the Department of Homeland Security and the Customs and Border Protection's mission to secure the border. (U.S. Customs and Border Patrol)

The Defense Department's Inspector General's Office has launched an "evaluation" of the deployment of active-duty and National Guard troops to the southern border, a news release said Tuesday.

"We will examine, among other issues, what they are doing at the border, what training they received, and whether their use complied with applicable law, DoD policy, and operating guidance," said Glenn Fine, the principal deputy inspector general performing the duties of the inspector general, in the release.

Read More Show Less
(DoD photo)

Gold Star family members might finally see an end to the so-called "Widows Tax" thanks to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020.

Read More Show Less
Saudi Arabia Defense Attache Major General Fawaz Al Fawaz and his Embassy staff and other officials arrive to meet with the Saudi students who remain restricted to the Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola base by their Saudi commanding officer, in Pensacola, Florida, U.S. December 9, 2019.( FBI Jacksonville/Handout via Reuters)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Nearly 175 Saudi Arabian military aviation students have been grounded as part of a "safety stand-down" after a Saudi Air Force lieutenant shot and killed three people last week at a U.S. Navy base in Florida, U.S. officials told Reuters on Tuesday.

Read More Show Less