South Korea to hold joint drill on WMD removalThe armed forces of South Korea and the United States will form a joint unit to practice removing North Korean weapons of mass destruction during their upcoming joint exercise, a government source said yesterday.
“During the Ulchi Freedom Guardian [UFG] from Aug. 16 to 26, South Korea and the U.S. will conduct both virtual and real exercises with their joint task force,” the source said.
The unit will be formally called the Joint Task Force for Elimination (JTF-E) of WMDs.
The virtual exercise will be computer simulated, in which participants will detect WMDs and have troops or weapons destroy them.
In the field, the joint unit will practice locating, destroying and disassembling WMDs, and moving them to different locations.
The source said some 350 troops from the U.S. Army’s 20th Support Command and South Korea’s Chemical, Biological and Nuclear Defense Command will form the JTF-E. Last year, the two commands held their first joint WMD-elimination exercise.
“In contingencies, the JTF-E will be tasked with identifying North Korean facilities suspected of producing WMDs and destroying them in four steps,” the source said. “South Korean forces will be part of that mission.”
Military officials have said the South should develop capabilities to remove WMDs independently by 2015, when wartime operational control is returned to the South from the United States. The United States has said it will still conduct WMD-removal operations beyond 2015.
But a South Korean military official said Seoul should be prepared for contingencies in case the U.S. 20th Support Command fails to reach South Korea on time. Yonhap