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US base near North Korea accidentally plays air raid siren instead of ‘Taps’

Cadets participating in the cadet troop leadership training program with the 1st Battalion, 38th Field Artillery Regiment, 210th Fires Brigade walk out to a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter to take a trip around Camp Casey, South Korea, Aug. 8, 2013. (U.S. Army photo by Cpl. Kim Han-byeol/Released)
December 27, 2019

A U.S. Army base in Dongducheon, South Korea — just 11 miles from the North Korean border — accidentally sounded an emergency alarm on Thursday night instead of the expected bugler’s tune “Taps.”

Camp Casey, the Army installation closest to the North Korean border and a likely target for an attack in a potential conflict, sent its personnel into a brief panic when an emergency alarm went out over the base announcement system, according to the Washington Post.

The alarm that played serves as an air raid siren and generally warns for soldiers to begin “alert procedures.”

Army Lt. Col. Martyn Crighton, a spokesman for the 2nd Infantry Division stationed at the base, said the alarm came as the result of “human error.” The “Taps” bugler’s tune was supposed to play over the base announcement system, as is done at 10 p.m., to signify the end of the day.

A video of the alarm incident was shared on the popular U.S Army WTF! Moments Twitter account, along with references to North Korean threats of a “Christmas present” if the U.S. did not meet its arbitrary year-end deadline to reach a denuclearization agreement.

A purported text conversation shared along to the U.S Army WTF! Moments’ Facebook account appeared to detail the incident as it was discussed among soldiers at the time.

The reference to “210” could translate to the 210th Field Artillery Brigade, which is based at Camp Casey.

Military personnel who discussed the incident on a Reddit post, described being “riled up” and several soldiers were reportedly seen running through halls in full uniform, in response to the false alarm.

Crighton said the base took immediate action to notify personnel of the mistake, but did not disclose how much time had passed between the sounding of the alarm and the notice of the mistake.

It was not clear how the mistake occurred, though the incident bears some similarity to a 2018 incident in Hawaii in which a missile warning was falsely set off. The alarm served as a warning that a missile strike was imminent, at a previous high-tension point with North Korea.

The timing of this incident did coincide with speculations about what “Christmas present” North Korea would send against the U.S.

U.S. generals have speculated that the non-specific “Christmas” comments by North Korean diplomats might signify new long-range missile tests. One Air Force general has ramped up reconnaissance flights around North Korea as one measure of preparedness against such threatening remarks.