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Op-Ed: Special Operations will be called upon again to deal with North Korea

Airmen from the 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron work on an AC-130U Spooky Gunship at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Nov. 3, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Callaway/Released)
July 06, 2017

All opinion articles are the opinion of the author and not necessarily of American Military News.

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As the tensions heat up to dangerous levels on the Korean Peninsula, there is no doubt that if war breaks out, U.S. Special Operations forces (SOF) will be called on to play an outsized role in any possible conflict. The American military has come to rely on SOCOM (Special Operations Command) to fight wars. The units have become extremely capable, but also very tired and strung out.

Democratic administrations, especially under former President Obama, tend to use SOF as a Mr. Fix-It type of capability. They want to fight wars but don’t want to spend the money or develop the forces to do so, or pay the political consequences, so they rely on Special Operations to work miracles. We saw this with Kennedy, as well as with Clinton. Bush used SOF extensively, as well, but along with broad support from conventional forces.

A conflict with North Korea will be no different.

The key to winning any sort of conflict north of the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) will be to destroying Kim Jong Un’s offensive capability before he can use it against Seoul and American forces stationed in South Korea. This will require eliminating the nuclear threat but also embedded artillery in the mountains north of the 38th parallel, trained on targets in the South. We saw a prequel to this action in Afghanistan with the deployment of the MOAB. Special operators are not just SEALs and Delta Force. Aviation units play a major role with insertion/extraction support, or even direct action. The Talons of Air Force Special Operations Command will most likely be called on to drop similar ordinance in North Korea to shut down the caves that house artillery tubes and rockets, et cetera. This will be a very daring mission, even almost suicidal. However, the Air Commandos will not blink if ordered to do so.

A decapitation strike against the Dear Leader himself, Kim Jong Un, is also a high probability. This will require aviation to insert teams into the target area and extract if need be. The pilots and ground teams will have no illusion about their probability of returning from such a mission. However, if called upon, they will salute and take the hill.

In addition, you will have other types of operations that only SOF can accomplish. There are, of course, capabilities that are covert and the public does not know about. All the arrows in the quiver will be used in a war with North Korea.

For if we lose such a war, American power will be lost forever, as China and Russia grow in their military capabilities and the perception of their prowess. Losing a conflict with the North is something President Trump simply will not allow.

Failure is not an option. If I was a betting man, I’d put money down in Vegas that SOF are already training heavily for such a scenario. They know they will be called on again soon, as the motto goes: Anytime, Anyplace.

L. Todd Wood, a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, flew special operations helicopters supporting SEAL Team 6, Delta Force and others. After leaving the military, he pursued his other passion, finance, spending 18 years on Wall Street trading emerging market debt, and later, writing. The first of his many thrillers is “Currency.” Todd is a columnist at The Washington Times, and has contributed to Fox Business, The Moscow Times, the New York Post, the National Review, Zero Hedge, Newsmax TV, Breitbart and others. He is editor-in-chief of For more information about L. Todd Wood, visit