CNN reports that South Korea is accelerating plans to deploy a highly trained “decapitation unit,” a commando squad intended to take out the “wartime command” structure of North Korea in the “event of war.”
The unit was supposed to be ready for action by 2019, but now Seoul says it will be deployable by the end of this year.
That would prominently include dictator Kim Jong-un, who recently popped up on propaganda photos supervising a mock attack on the Blue House, the South Korean presidential palace. He watched the drill through binoculars, rather than personally leading the North Korean troops in assaulting the building.
Unfortunately, Kim’s charge for more nuclear weapons by the end of 2017 — announced in his New Year’s Eve address, and verified by a high-ranking North Korea defector — is no laughing matter.
Professor Choi Jong-Kun of Yonsei University told CNN he thought the South publicizing their decapitation unit was a mistake: “We do not have the leadership yet. We need to essentially maintain a defensive posture while essentially maintaining a low profile.”
He was referring to the implosion of President Park Geun-hye, who probably won’t be living in the Blue House for much longer. Choi essentially accused the South Korean military of overstepping its bounds while the civilian leadership is in turmoil.
U.S. News and World Report sees South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo as genuinely worried about a “strategic or tactical provocation” from North Korea over the next few months.
The UK Telegraph quotes South Korean Brigadier General Cho Sang-ho expressing a desire to “develop asymmetric strategies that give us a comparative advantage over the North, like psychological warfare, decapitation operations, intelligence advantage and precision strike capabilities” at a defense seminar in Seoul on Thursday.
Former South Korean intel chief Rah Jong-Yil told the Telegraph this was modeled after American doctrine:
The aim is not to kill large numbers of the enemy’s soldiers, but to attack those that make the decisions. The US used it against Saddam Hussein in Iraq, attempting at the outset of the war there to eliminate him or at least to keep him on the run and disturb his ability to fight back.
Rah, however, agreed with Professor Choi of Yonsei University that it was “very rash and provocative” for military officials to boast about the decapitation unit and threaten North Korea’s leadership, given recent tensions. He warned that decapitation strikes against the top leadership would be a tall order, given the North’s extensive network of bunkers and well-protected residences for Kim.