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South launches special ops decapitation unit

Dec 02,2017
The South Korean Army launched a special operations force Friday that will train soldiers to eliminate the North Korean leadership with state-of-the-art weapons in case of war, bestowing upon them “much wider and more crucial” roles than getting rid of Kim Jong-un.

The so-called “decapitation unit,” as local military officials and media call it, was established under the army’s Special Warfare Command, and is known to be modeled after the U.S. Army Rangers, Delta Force, SEAL Team Six and Green Berets.

A South Korean military official said he could not specify the missions of the brigade or how they will train, but stressed it will grow into the country’s “core of military strength,” alongside the Kill Chain and the Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) systems.

Kill Chain refers to a pre-emptive strike system designed to target North Korean missile sites at times of imminent threat, while the KAMD focuses on terminal-phase, low-altitude missile defense.

The South Korean Army initially intended to launch the brigade in 2019, according to sources with knowledge of the process, but decided to advance the schedule as North Korea continues to raise regional tensions with its ballistic missile launches and nuclear experiments.

Last Wednesday, the North fired a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile into the East Sea, which reached 4,475 kilometers in altitude, the highest of any North Korean missile ever tested. Seoul said Friday the missile would be capable of targeting the entire U.S. mainland if it were launched on a normal angle.

When Seoul announced late last year its plan to establish a decapitation unit, North Korea pounced on the news, saying through its official media that it was a “brazen declaration of war.” The regime vowed to target the special mission soldiers first if it goes into battle with the South, and punish whoever was involved in planning the team.

Local intelligence sources said Kim Jong-un drastically beefed up personal security shortly afterward.

A South Korean military official said the brigade members will use renovated weapons for the time being and incorporate grenade launchers, heavy machine guns, light machine guns and drones during exercise.

“Think of it as the South Korean Navy Special Warfare Flotilla, mobilized in January 2011 when it rescued the Samho Jewelry from Somali pirates,” said a local military official. “But having to fight against North Korea, we’ll need way stronger state-of-the-art weaponry.”

BY JEONG YONG-SOO [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]


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