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Special Warfare Command

The Special Warfare Command consists of several brigades, and its main tasks include collecting secret information in enemy territory, spotting ROK military firepower, and carrying out other designated tasks. The Special Warfare Command has seven brigades trained for wartime missions behind enemy lines. Although information on the organization of these units was unavailable in 1990, they probably were among the best-trained and most combat-ready forces in the army.

Since 1993, the ROK military has trained experts by sending officers to various PKO training institutions such as the Northern Europe United Nations Training Corps (UNTC), Poland, and Ireland. And since 1995, officers and related government officials have been sent to the Pearson Peacekeeping Center (PPC) in Canada. To lay the foundation for PKO education domestically, in 1995 the military designated the Joint Services Staff College to be the lead institution to educate officers to become military observers and staff. In May 1998, the PKO Department was officially inaugurated within the college. Moreover, the Special Warfare Command's Education Corps was designated as the institution solely responsible for unit-level education of PKO forces by providing solid education for infantry and engineer personnel to be dispatched.

The Evergreen unit (an engineer battalion, named for the hearty tree which is a Korean national favorite]) to Somalia was the first-ever ROK military unit to take part in the UN-led peace keeping operations. Since its commencement in June 30, 1993, the battalion consisted of 504 men (annually rotated) took part in repairing roads and assisting the residences of Somalia. During their deployment the Evergreen unit put in 2,700 men and 1,300 pieces of equipment into a construction effort to repair the road linking Balad and Zohar. Additionally, the ROK unit worked with the US troops to construct the bypass road from Balad to Afgoa.

Peacekeeping ROK Batt soldiers of the Evergreen Unit are trained for security operations and take all the necessary precautions in case of riots and the use of armed force. On August 30, 1999, a UN-mandated referendum for independence in East Timor was held, in which 78.5 percent of the electorate opted for independence. However, militias who opposed East Timor's independence caused devastating violence. Accordingly, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution to grant installation of the International Forces in East Timor (INTERFET), and the UN Secretary General together with the government of Australia officially requested the ROK government's participation. In addition, the Indonesian government agreed to the deployment of the multinational forces and actively requested the participation of Asian nations including the ROK.

To maintain security and restore order, the ROK government formed the 419-member Evergreen Unit, composed of 201 infantry troops and support elements such as transportation, supply, communications, and medical personnel. The Evergreen Unit initiated operations on October 22, 1999 in Lospalos, East Timor. The Evergreen Unit, initially the 5th brigade, Special Warfare Command, operated in a district that covers 12 per cent of East Timor's land area. On the Korean battalion's arrival in Lautem on 1 October 1999, the District was still reeling from the post-election violence, with 40 per cent of the public buildings destroyed, along with most markets and schools and housing. A population that was formerly 50,000 people had been reduced to 20,000 by forced and voluntary exile.

On 28 April 2000, the original 419 troops of the Korean battalion completed their six-month rotation and were replaced, after a two-week orientation over-lap, with a fresh battalion of Korean soldiers. The Korean Battallion moved to Oeucci Enclave in February 2002. In April 2003 the 8th ROK BATT (Evergreen Unit) with 250 soldiers deployed for peace keeping missions for six months in Oecussi, East Timor. ROK Batt has also been engaged in public relations, and election related work including resident registration, particularly helping those who live in difficult terrain.

In Dceember 2017 South Korea's Ministry of National Defense announced spending of 340 million won (about $310,000 US) to equip the brigade-sized team of special forces soldiers training to eliminate enemy officials, including North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The money was allocated for the purchase of suicide and surveillance drones and grenade machine guns, among other equipment. Additional funding of up to $23.7 million has been set aside for the unit.

Experts said it would take some time for the unit to become fully operational, given that it presently lacked advanced transport helicopters which could carry infiltrators into North Korean territory. Analysts say that until South Korea achieves this capability, they will remain unable to breach Pyongyang's dense air defense network.

The 'decapitation unit', the existence of which was announced in September 2017, was officially formed on December 1, and consists of 1,000 troops from the army's special forces command. Retired three star general Shin Wong-sik told US media in September that the unit, designed to "make Kim Jong-un fear for his life," would be "the best deterrence we can have, next to having our own nukes"

Counter Leadership Targeting (CLT) is the removal of a selected leadership's ability to affect a given conflict. Throughout recorded history armies have used the strategy of targeting opponent leaders with varying degrees of success. The US attempted it throughout the spectrum of conflict, from Counter Power targeting for nuclear deterrence during the cold war to the PhoenixProject during Vietnam.

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Page last modified: 14-12-2017 17:08:48 ZULU