As tensions rise in north Korea, U.S. troops train soldiers to fight inside the tunnel.
U.S. officials have told NPR that the army is training thousands of soldiers for the tunnel war, as part of an effort to provide President trump with military options for north Korea.
North Korea has thousands of tunnels and bunkers, some of which have been found crossing the border and close to Seoul, the south Korean capital. The rest of north Korea, hundreds of feet deep, can be used to hide troops and artillery, as well as chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
In addition to training thousands of troops, officials say the pentagon is buying more specialized equipment for tunnel operations: radios and night-vision goggles, and acetylene torches and bolt cutters.
This year, officials say, additional military Tours will include the 101st airborne division and the 82nd airborne division.
Spokesmen for these departments would not comment on additional training, and the army would not comment.
Officials say training is expected to take place throughout 2018, though more training facilities are available across the country, including abandoned tunnels and bunkers.
“I think it’s necessary, not just for the U.S. military, but for the south Korean army,” said Dave maxwell. He is a retired army colonel who served in South Korea and is now studying the African American institute of studies, a nonprofit private education research group. “There are about 5,000 of them, and the north koreans are like moles.”
For years, U.S. officials have warned of the tunnels. Former defense secretary Donald rumsfeld called north Korea “a world-class leader” in a confirmation hearing in 2001.
“They have traveled all over the country in a few countries,” rumsfeld told the senator 17 years ago. “They have underground positions with a lot of weapons.”
And the tunnels that are far below ground are safe for most planes to drop bombs or bombs from the sea. Officials say any military action against north Korea will include U.S. and south Korean forces attacking the tunnels.
The army usually trains one or two brigades for tunnel warfare, so a large number of soldiers are prepared to maneuver and fight in closed environments such as Afghanistan. But because of the threat posed by north Korea, the army is training more brigades, although the exact number is classified.
Just last month, American soldiers in the army’s 5th cavalry regiment were trained to infiltrate bunkers in a semi-abandoned base north of Seoul. This is a double for a chemical weapons lab. When they climbed half a mile into the tunnel, the soldiers used special radios and night-vision goggles.
Prepare for a “terrible” conflict.
Tensions are rising as north Korea advances on missile and nuclear programs, and some in the pentagon say more training and planning is needed.
The tensions include a week of inflammatory rhetoric from north Korean leader Kim jong UN and Mr. Trump.
“Nuclear buttons are always on my desk in my office,” Mr. Kim said. “They should be aware that this is not a threat, but a reality.”
“I also have a core button, but it’s much bigger and more powerful, and my buttons work, too!” trump tweeted.
The us ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, spoke on ABC’s this week, defending Mr Trump’s tweets.
“We want to always remind them that we can also destroy you, so be very careful with what you say and what you do,” said harry.
The us defence secretary, Jim mattis, has not spoken out in hyperbole and has consistently said that diplomacy and sanctions are part of the current campaign. Still, Matisse told a U.S. military conference last fall that the service must be prepared for anything that might happen.
“What is the future now? Neither you nor I can say, “said Matisse. “So there is one thing that the U.S. military can do, and that is you have to be prepared to make sure that our President is able to use military options when needed.”
At the same meeting, the army’s top military officer, general mark miliband, said that “the all-out war on the Korean peninsula will be horrifying by any imagination”.
But he said it was unacceptable for north Korea to have a nuclear missile capable of hitting the United States.
“It’s terrible, no doubt, but an intercontinental ballistic missile would also attack Los Angeles or New York City, which is just as terrible,” he said.
At the joint chiefs of staff, Mr. Miliband was particularly concerned about north Korea’s threats, officials said.
At the same time, the army is buying more bridge equipment for any possible military action in north Korea. Military planners do not want America’s heavy armour to rely on north Korea’s troubled infrastructure on rivers.
One of the projects the army USES is the so-called “union assault bridge”, an abrams tank, including a collapsible bridge that spans 62 feet.
At the same time, the pentagon has quietly added more patriot missiles and precision-guided bombs to the region in the past few months to ensure inventory is sufficient to combat the war.