President Trump‘s decision this week to cancel large-scale joint military exercises with South Korea rattled Pentagon officials, who did not anticipate the news or have a strong role at the summit itself, according to defense experts. 

The surprise declaration, which came after Trump met with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un, is an apparent concession to Pyongyang, which has claimed the drills are merely a pretext for a strike on the North.

After the announcement, news soon leaked of government officials scrambling aboard Air Force One to alert allied countries and partners of the change, with South Korea even left out of the loop.

Barry Pavel, a national security expert at the Atlantic Council think tank, highlighted the lack of defense officials on the trip, which he said was one indication the White House surprised the Pentagon.

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