A senior administration official told CNN that the Trump administration is planning to be “more quiet” and “more discreet” about speaking publicly on US military exercises with the Republic of Korea and Japan aimed at demonstrating military capability against North Korea.
Two other administration officials confirmed that decision to CNN separately.
The decision not to talk about exercises is intended to give US diplomats more leeway in ongoing sensitive talks in the region in hopes of defusing the crisis, the senior official said.
President Donald Trump has often made statements critical of the North Korean regime and its leader, Kim Jong Un, whom the President has labeled “Little Rocket Man.” The plan to tone down public comments on US military exercises with South Korea and Japan indicates at least some who report to the President are leaning toward tamping down rhetoric that could be perceived as belligerent, at least concerning any upcoming exercises.
For decades, the US military has taken the position that it openly and publicly discusses upcoming military training exercises, especially in potential hotspots around the globe, so other nations are aware of what is happening and do not inadvertently believe the US is engaging in real-world military operations. In the current situation, the hope is that South Korea will find ways to make clear to the North what the US is doing.
Other US officials say there are very initial indications that North Korea is moving equipment around that could be in preparation for another satellite or missile launch.