How U.S., South Korean Special Ops Would Join Forces in a New Korean War by David Maxwell - The Cipher Brief
Tensions are rising on the Korean Peninsula. There is fear that the Korean War could restart, since there has only been a temporary suspension of hostilities since the 1953 Armistice. Although this fear is not new and we have experienced high tensions many times over the years, given the global security situation, with two new administrations in Washington and Seoul and the uncertainty of Kim Jong-un’s future actions, some fear that the chances for some form of conflict are greater than ever. There is great focus on North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities, continuing North Korean provocations to gain political and economic concessions, and the potential for a conventional war. But there is little focus on the combined special operations forces of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the U.S., except for occasional rhetoric.
There were a number of ad hoc special operations units led by the U.S. during the Korean War. They went by such names as the UN Partisan Infantry Korea, the 8240th Army Unit, the White Tigers, the Combined Command Reconnaissance Activities Korea, and Joint Advisory Commission Korea. The combined special operations capability today has built on this history and has evolved to a quite capable force, the Combined Unconventional Warfare Task Force, and it will provide critical support to the Commander of the ROK/U.S. Combined Forces Command (ROK/US CFC).
There are two important points to keep in mind about special operations forces (SOF) in Korea. First is that all the legislated U.S. SOF activities specified in U.S. Code will be conducted during conflict. Although there is focus on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) since the transfer of the counter-WMD mission from U.S. Strategic Command to U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) in 2016, there are many more SOF requirements to support the ROK/US CFC.
The second point is that ROK special operations forces are among the most capable forces with which the U.S. partners. Although they are not the same as U.S. SOF, they share a long history of training and working together not only in Korea but also in Iraq, Afghanistan, and even in places such as the Horn of Africa with ROK Navy SEALs supporting anti-piracy operations. The combination of ROK and U.S. SOF provide a powerful capability to the Commander of ROK/US CFC…