U.S. commanders for troops in South Korea, South America confirmed by Senate

U.S. commanders for troops in South Korea, South America confirmed by Senate
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The Senate on Thursday confirmed new commanders for U.S. troops in South Korea and South America.

Gen. Robert Abrams was confirmed as head of U.S. Forces Korea, and senators confirmed Adm. Craig Faller to take charge of U.S. Southern Command. The commanders were confirmed by unanimous consent late Thursday night along with other military nominees.

Abrams will succeed Gen. Vincent Brooks, and Faller will take over for Gen. Kurt Tidd.


Abrams will lead U.S. and allied forces on the Korean peninsula at a time of delicate diplomacy between the United States and North Korea. President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump denies telling Bolton Ukraine aid was tied to investigations Former senior Senate GOP aide says Republicans should call witnesses Title, release date revealed for Bolton memoir MORE is in the midst of planning a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in an effort to get the country to relinquish its nuclear weapons.

After Trump's first summit with Kim in June, the president announced he was suspending joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises, deriding them as provocative war games that are too expensive.

During his Senate confirmation hearing, Abrams said suspending military exercises on the peninsula was a “prudent risk” despite resulting in a “slight degradation” of readiness.

“The suspension of the exercise this past August and September I would say was prudent risk if we’re willing to make the effort to change the relationship with” North Korea, Abrams said. “I think that there was certainly degradation to the readiness of the force for the Combined Forces.”

As Southern Command leader, Faller will oversee the U.S. military in Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The command plays a leading role in drug interdiction, as well as in humanitarian roles such as hurricane response.

Faller has been Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisLawmakers push back at Pentagon's possible Africa drawdown Overnight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request Trump called top military brass 'a bunch of dopes and babies' in 2017: book MORE’s senior military adviser since shortly after the secretary was confirmed in 2017.

Faller faced tough questions from some Democrats during his confirmation hearing after the Washington Post reported that he was under investigation for three years by the Justice Department and the Navy for his interactions with a contractor who has pleaded guilty to bribery and defrauding the military.

Faller defended his Navy record, saying the investigations cleared him of all wrongdoing in what was known as the “Fat Leonard” scandal.