The “crazy fat kid” as Senator John McCain calls him is at it again in North Korea. The escalation in tensions on the Korean Peninsula comes right on the heels of the annual Foal Eagle exercise. The exercise has been held once a year since the 1960’s and in part involves US and South Korean Special Operations Forces “red teaming” South Korean military facilities and other infrastructure. It is widely believed, in the event of war, that North Korea will infiltrate their Special Purpose Forces into the South via penetration of the DMZ (including by tunnel), by boat, by submarine, or even by glider. Once in the South these troops would than engage in a campaign of terror, mayhem, and sabotage that would soften up South Korean rear areas and distract forces away from the frontline, as well as sever their logistics lines. During Foal Eagle, SOF elements train by conducting Direct Action operations against South Korean infrastructure, the way they would in the North or in occupied South Korean territory during a war. Meanwhile, the South Korean forces practice defending their installations from the aggressors.
Senator McCain’s insult against Kim Jong-Un may have been funny, and we may get some chuckles watching Team America: World Police, in which Kim Jong-Un’s father, Kim Jong Il, sang “I’m so ronry” but at the end of the day the threat posed by the North and the suffering and oppression experienced by the people who live there is no laughing matter.
The ratcheting up of tensions by North Korea follows a familiar pattern. This is their negotiation strategy, escalating the situation right up to the brink of war in order to gain political leverage and increased concessions from the United States, South Korea, and their allies. The latest round of brinksmanship can perhaps be traced back to a diabolically well planned assassination in Malaysia. The victim was Kim Jong-Nam, the North Korean dictator’s half-brother. Unwitting assassins sprayed him with VX nerve agent, allegedly under the false pretenses that they were participating in a reality television show.
Tensions have been steadily rising during this year’s Foal Eagle exercise with a South Korean newspaper announcing that Delta Force and SEAL Team Six were on hand to practice so-called “decapitation” operations against the North. The claim is almost certainly false as America’s highly trained counter-terrorism operators are unlikely to be thrown away on suicide missions in the North, missions that could be accomplished by cruise missiles or JDAM strikes. For their part, the North has been testing ballistic missiles, some of which could reach Japan. These tests were designed to menace and interrupt President Trump’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida this past week. For North Korea, the worst thing that could happen is that they are forgotten, discarded to history’s waste bin and so the Kim Family Regime has to keep themselves in the headlines of our newspapers.