Amid an annual joint military exercise between the US and South Korea that involves thousands of troops and numerous aircraft and warships, American Special Forces groups run trainings to prepare for potential guerrilla warfare across the DMZ.
For three days in April 2013, two elite teams of 12 men each from the US Special Operations Forces carried out simulated missions into North Korea with two South Korean counterparts, the 7th and 11th Republic of Korea (ROK) Special Forces. The training – Balance Knife 13-1 – focused on how to move commandos in and out of North Korea, and how to build an “indigenous resistance organization” once inside, according to the January 2014 edition of Special Warfare, an academic journal of the US Army’s John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.
Many South Korean commandos “still have family in the North that they may or may not have contact with,” the journal said, good for growing “strong relationships that transcend NK ideology and can serve as a foundation for the development of a loyal resistance organization.”
The simulated actions are part of the larger Foal Eagle exercise conducted near Iksan and Damyan, South Korea. The US has over 28,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines in South Korea, though the specialized training speaks to just how familiar commandos must be in case of an immediate crisis.
The elite American special forces involved are Operational Detachment Alphas 1336 and 1333, both of the Army’s Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion of the 1st Special Forces Group.
The review noted that US military experience in Iraq and Afghanistan showed a need for improved or altered methods of unconventional warfare to be successful in North Korea. And given the North has better technology than, say, the Taliban, and a largely deforested countryside, a “drastic reduction in battle command capability” requires grounded commandos be able to operate with less.[RT]