The Navy SEAL team responsible for killing Osama bin Laden during a 2011 raid in Pakistan is reportedly preparing to carry out drills meant to simulate an attack on North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
The Daily Mail reports that the Special Warfare Development Group, aka SEAL Team 6, will train for the potential operation in South Korea.
The USS Carl Vinson, an American aircraft carrier, is set to arrive in South Korea April 12, according to a report in The Japan Times. The carrier will be accompanied by U.S. Army counter-terrorism unit, Delta Force.
On April 11, President Donald Trump tweeted that "North Korea is looking for trouble."
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"If China decides to help, that would be great," he added. "If not, we will solve the problem without them."
In March, a nuclear-powered U.S. aircraft carrier arrived in the Korean Peninsula to facilitate joint military exercises with South Korea. Shortly thereafter, the South's Yonhap News Agency reported that the U.S. was planning to overthrow Kim Jong-un and degrade the country's military capabilities, according to the Daily Mail.
"A bigger number of and more diverse U.S. special operation forces will take part in this year's Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercises to practice missions to infiltrate into the North, remove the North's war command and demolition of its key military facilities," an anonymous military official told the news agency.
Washington, meanwhile, denied that an attack on North Korea is imminent, describing the increased military presence as defensive in nature.
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"The importance of the exercise is to continue to build our alliance and our relationship and strengthen that working relationship between our ships," Rear Admiral James Kilby said.
On April 7, NBC News reported that the Trump administration was considering deploying nuclear weapons in South Korea and/or assassinating Kim Jong-un
According to former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert, a majority of South Koreans support the idea of nuclear deployment.
"Some polls put it at well over 50 percent," he told NBC News. "It's something that's being debated, and support for it over time, at least at this point, is climbing."
He added that he does not support such a course of action, as it would damage "South Korea's moral authority toward de-nuclearization of the peninsula."
Lippert is equally wary of a regime change operation in which Kim Jong-un would be killed.
"Discussions of regime change and decapitation … tend to cause the Chinese great pause of concern and tends to have them move in the opposite direction we would like them to move in terms of pressure," he explained.
Retired Adm. James Stavridis expressed similar concern, pointing out that decapitating the Kim regime could have dangerous consequences.
"The question you have to ask yourself is what happens the day after you decapitate?" he said. "I think that in North Korea, it's an enormous unknown."
North Korea has responded to the U.S. provocations with defiance.
"If they infringe on the DPRK's sovereignty and dignity even a bit, its army will launch merciless ultra-precision strikes from ground, air, sea and underwater," state news agency KCNA warned. "On March 11 alone, many enemy carrier-based aircraft flew along a course near territorial air and waters of the DPRK to stage drills of dropping bombs and making surprise attacks on the ground targets of its army."
In early April, the news agency said Kim had ordered his troops to "set up thorough countermeasures of a merciless strike against the enemy's sudden air assault."