United States Special Forces – including SEAL Team 6 – are heading to South Korea for joint military exercises aimed at simulating the removal of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, said the south’s ministry of national defence.
Navy’s Special Warfare Development Group, commonly known as DevGru, killed al Qaeda supremo Osama bin Laden in May 2011 during Operation Neptune Spear in Pakistan.
For the first time, the team is now participating in the annual Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercises, which will run through late April, South Korea’s Joon Gang Daily reported.
Interestingly, when SEAL Team 6 will arrive in South Korea is yet to be known.
However, North Korea has warned the US of “merciless” attacks if an aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson infringes on its sovereignty or dignity. The arrival of the US strike group was part of a “reckless scheme” to attack it, said North Korea.
According to the Japan Times, the US unit boarded the USS Carl Vinson, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, last week and is training in South Korean waters. The carrier is due in Busan Port on Wednesday, according to the Japanese newspaper. But, SEAL Team 6 will not be alone in the drills.
Delta Force, a special US Army mission whose prime tasks include hostage rescue and counter-terrorism, will soon touch down in South Korea, added the Defense Ministry.
Together with the US commandoes who killed bin Laden, Delta Force will practice the hypothetical removal of Kim Jong-Un and the destruction of North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction.
“It will send a very strong message to North Korea, which is constantly carrying out military provocations,” a ministry official said.
The SEALs are the maritime component of the US Special Operations Command, continually deployed across the world in operations to protect US interests.
A 2012 BBC report put their numbers to 2,500 in total. It said that they take their name from the surroundings in which they are trained to work – sea, air and land. Nonetheless, it is their exceedingly specialised training to function in water that they are best known for. Their missions can be immensely varied in nature, involving combat, anti-terrorism and hostage rescues.
Last week, North Korea fired four ballistic missiles into the sea off Japan in response to annual US-South Korea military drills, which the North sees as preparation for war.
The murder in Malaysia last month of North Korean leader’s estranged half-brother added to a sense of urgency to efforts to handle North Korea.
The south’s Ministry of National Defence continued that F-35 stealth fighters will also fly from US Navy bases in Japan in March to carry out strike simulations on key North Korean facilities.
A joint amphibious landing operation, which will kick off in April, will see the deployment of support ships the USS Bonhomme Richard, USS Green Bay and USS Ashland, it added.
The rise in the number of US forces in the drills comes after North Korea’s Kim, in a New Year’s speech, said that the country was in the “final stage” of test-firing an intercontinental ballistic missile, the first of its kind.
North Korea claimed that the most recent drill was only aimed at striking “the bases of the US imperialist aggressor forces in Japan.”
Washington and Seoul also stress that the military drills which began on March 1 are defensive, but Pyongyang sees them as a rehearsal for an invasion.
Last year, the exercise involved about 17,000 US troops and more than 300,000 South Koreans. South Korea has said this year’s exercise would be of a similar scale.
China says the exercises do nothing to ease tension. Last week, it called on North Korea to stop its weapons tests and for South Korea and the United States to stop their drills.