A growing U.S. presence around the Korean Peninsula, which includes drone stations, military drills and even elite American special forces, is reportedly part of a plan aimed at "incapacitating" the rogue regime in Pyongyang should conflict break out.
On Sunday, the U.S. declared it will permanently station unmanned missile capable drones in South Korea. The development came amid reports that elite U.S. forces - possibly including SEAL Team 6, will take part in joint military drills with South Korea.
Two days later, North Korea issued a stern warning to the U.S. that it will launch merciless strikes if an aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson in the area infringes on its territory.
“If they infringe on the DPRK’s [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] sovereignty and dignity even a bit, its army will launch merciless ultra-precision strikes from ground, air, sea, and underwater,” said Pyongyang’s state-run news agency, KCNA. “On March 11 alone, many enemy carrier-based aircraft flew along a course near territorial air and waters of the DPRK to stage drills of dropping bombs and making surprise attacks on the ground targets of its army.”
Pyongyang has ratcheted up its rhetoric against South Korea and the U.S., and recently claimed has a nuclear warhead small enough to put on the tip of a missile. That, combined with reports the isolated communist dictatorship nation is working on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the continental United States, has prompted international concerns that something must finally be done to contain North Korea.
The U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six reportedly was to join the annual Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercises alongside the South Koreans for the first time. Foal Eagle is a joint exercise between the two allies and is one of the largest military exercises conducted annually in the world.
Foal Eagle started March 1 and runs through the end of April. Key Resolve, a computer-simulated command post exercise, began Monday and will continue until March 24.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency claims that the heightened military presence is part of a plan to decapitate North Korean leadership. They say a military official, who asked not be named told them “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 demolition of its key military facilities.”
“Local U.S. special ops units will participate in the training, but Seal Team 6 is not part of this training.”
- US defense official
The Pentagon denied that SEAL Team 6 will be involved.
“Local U.S. special ops units will participate in the training,” a senior U.S. defense official told Fox News, “but Seal Team 6 is not part of this training.”
One former special operator told Fox News the Department of Defense will play its cards close to the vest on such matters.
"That makes sense," he said. "They should keep what they are doing secret and would never acknowledge movements.”
Former Vice Admiral and Commander of United States Special Operations Command [SOCOM] William McRaven, in his book 'Spec Ops,' wrote “The purpose of tight security is to prevent the enemy from gaining an advantage through foreknowledge of the impending attack… A failed security effort could result in the enemy preparing a surprise of his own…” In other words secrecy is vital."
When contacted for comment about what units are involved SOCOM, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, referred queries to Special Operations Command Korea, based in South Korea. A public affairs officer there told Fox News in an email, "we will not comment at this time."
A recent internal White House review of strategy on North Korea included the possibility of military force or regime change to blunt the country’s nuclear-weapons threat.