Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. is right. The U.S. military should order the family members of U.S. government and military personnel to leave South Korea.
Speaking on CBS on Sunday, Graham suggested that "It’s crazy to send spouses and children to South Korea, given the provocation of North Korea. South Korea should be an unaccompanied tour."
President Trump should listen to the Senator from South Carolina.
First off, the threat of a new war on the Korean peninsula is significant. And after North Korea's unprecedented missile test, last week, Trump has only three options left. He can sanction China in order to pressure Xi Jinping to get Kim Jong Un to alter course; he can accept North Korea's nuclear-ballistic missile capability and the threat it poses to U.S. security, or he can use military force to end that program.
The Russians might find it hilarious, but these options reflect a very real crisis. With more than 30,000 U.S. soldiers, airman, sailors, and Marines stationed in South Korea at bases near to the demilitarized zone, we must recognize that thousands of family members now at grave risk.
The need to send civilians back to the U.S. isn't just about protecting their lives, it's about ensuring the U.S. and South Korea can rapidly defeat any North Korean aggression. After all, in the event of a sudden conflict, the U.S. military would be tasked with and tied down by the need to conduct a civilian evacuation. That means the military's transport planes, helicopters and warships could not be used to ferry supplies, personnel, and ordnance to the front line. That opportunity cost denies the military of its raison d'être: warfighting.
Morale would suffer if family members were ordered home. (Indeed, the U.S. Army advertises its family amenities as a draw to get soldiers to apply for a two-year tour in South Korea.) But the commander of U.S. forces in Korea, General Vincent Brooks, must put lives and the mission first.
Graham is right, to want to protect American wives, husbands, sons, and daughters, and to ensure their loved ones are best placed to fight and win, it's time civilians were sent home.