Military Expanding Special Forces Capability To Strike Key N.K. Facilities, Leadership

12 October 2016

South Korea's military said Tuesday it will greatly expand the capabilities of its special forces to strike key North Korean command facilities and its leadership in the event of a crisis.

In a parliamentary audit, the Army said it is striving to be ready to carry out independent special operations against the North's provocations, with a plan to secure hardware, such as the latest MH-47 series choppers, compact satellite links and advanced small arms.

"The Army is seeking to have a special operations unit capable of infiltrating (enemy territory), completing its given mission and coming back in one piece," Army Chief of Staff Jang Jun-kyu said during the audit held in the Army's Kyeryongdae military headquarters near Daejeon, 164 kilometers south of Seoul.

The MH-47 series helicopter under consideration for deployment in the Army are variants of the battle-tested Chinook choppers operated by the South Korean and U.S. military that are specially designed for special operations. The helicopters equipped with airborne refueling equipment and a radar system that can detect topography, can carry 40 special forces troops and fly some 600 km into enemy territory, according to the Army.

As for the time frame for deployment, Rep. Baek Seung-joo from the ruling Saenuri Party said such equipment should be deployed "as quickly as possible" amid growing nuclear and missile threats from the North.

Currently, the Army plans to secure capability to carry out special missions by 2018.

In September when the North conducted its fifth nuclear test, the military said it was planning to create a special aviation unit capable of infiltrating the North's strategic military facilities and destroying them.

The Army's Special Warfare Command said in the audit that the creation of a special operation unit is also under consideration to carry out critical missions. The missions could include the removal of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his leadership should a war break out on the Korean Peninsula. (Yonhap)


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