U.S. military forces reportedly began training for a mission involving a ground invasion of North Korea, with the objective of deactivating all their nuclear weapons.
According to military sources who spoke to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, hundreds of U.S. and South Korean soldiers conducted an exercise dubbed “Warrior Strike,” preparing them to “infiltrate North Korea and remove weapons of mass destruction in case of conflict.”
Photos published on the unit’s Facebook page show armed soldiers training with night vision equipment, gas masks, helicopters and expensive weaponry.
“On December 15, 2017, Bravo Company, 1-5 CAV converged on a subterranean tunnel for training,” a description of the post reads. “Check out these photos and stay tuned for more coverage of BlackJack soldiers in action.”
The exercises concur with a recent analysis by the Pentagon that determined a ground invasion of North Korea would be the “only way” to fully disarm the country of its nuclear arsenal.
“The only way to ‘locate and destroy—with complete certainty—all components of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs’ is through a ground invasion,” wrote Rear Admiral Michael Dumont on behalf of the Pentagon Chiefs of Staff.
Last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reiterated that it is not the White House’s desire to send troops into North Korea, and it remains one of “four no’s” which the U.S. is hoping to avoid.
“We are not seeking the collapse of the North Korean regime. We are not seeking regime change. We are not seeking the accelerated reunification of the Korean Peninsula. And we are not seeking an excuse to send our military north of the [border with South Korea],” said Tillerson’s spokesperson Heather Nauert.
“The most important thing to us would be securing those nuclear weapons they’ve already developed and ensuring that nothing falls into the hands of people we would not want to have it,” she continued.
The training exercises come as the rogue communist state continues to aggressively advance its nuclear program while threatening the U.S. and prominent allies such as South Korea and Japan with total destruction.
Last month, the U.S. and South Korea also held a series of large-scale military exercises across the Korean peninsula, which mainly involved showcasing their most powerful fighter jets and stealth bombers. Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said was “aimed at enhancing the all-weather, day and night combined air power operation capabilities of South Korea and the U.S.”
Tillerson himself recently confirmed that he had discussed military action with Chinese counterparts and any action would involve soldiers immediately returning to South Korea through the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ.)
“We have had conversations that if something happened and we had to go across a line, we have given the Chinese assurances we would go back and retreat back to the south of the 38th Parallel when whatever the conditions that caused that to happen.”