U.S. special forces will take part in joint combat exercises on the Korean Peninsula.
The Korea JoongAng Daily, along with several other South Korean outlets citing military officials and the South Korean Ministry of National Defense, initially reported that SEAL Team Six, famous for taking out al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in 2011, would take part in the ongoing Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercises.
SEAL Team Six, part of the national mission force, will not be taking part in the exercises, a senior defense official told Fox News. Local U.S. special forces units, however, will participate in the exercises, which may include drills simulating a “decapitation” strike to eliminate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and the young despot’s stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.
“A bigger number of and more diverse U.S. special operation forces will take part in this year’s Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercises to practice missions to infiltrate into the North, remove the North’s war command and demolish its key military facilities,” an unnamed military official told Yonhap News Agency, emphasizing that the troops participating in the drills would “practice incapacitating North Korean leadership.”
Pentagon officials said the U.S. military “does not train for decapitation missions,” reports Business Insider. At the same time, it is believed that certain operational plans calls for preemptive strikes on North Korean leadership, as well as the country’s nuclear weapons caches, missile bases, and military command centers using all available assets, including special forces, in the event that North Korea starts a war or uses a nuclear weapon.
The Wall Street Journal reported in early March that policy options for the North Korea threat included the use of military force and even the possibility of regime change to curb the country’s nuclear ambitions.
It is unclear at this time what role U.S. special forces will play in the joint drills.
North Korea’s continued provocations, which include regular nuclear and ballistic missile tests, have led South Korea and the U.S. to develop preemptive strike plans and Japan to consider developing preemptive strike capabilities. Kim Jong-un may be able to get a shot off, but there is no guarantee he’ll live long enough to see how everything plays out.
(Editor’s Note: This piece has been updated to reflect new information from senior Pentagon officials.)
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