The Republic of Korea Marine Corps (ROKMC) has formed a new unit tasked with carrying out special operations inside North Korea in the event of a contingency, a South Korean military official revealed to Yonhap News last Sunday.
In wartime, the main mission of the new regiment, codenamed “Spartan 3000,” will be to destroy “key military facilities in the North’s rear during contingencies,” according to the military officials, whereas during peace the Spartan 3000 unit will be used as a rapid response force to tackle natural disasters.
“In the past, the battalion-level unit took 24 hours to be deployed across the Korean Peninsula, while the regimental-level unit took 48 hours. However, the new unit will be able to operate within 24 hours even at the regimental level,” the military official explained.
The new unit was formed in the southeastern city of Pohang on March 1 and trained with U.S. forces during the Republic of Korea (ROK)-United States Combined Forces Command’s annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle military exercises that began on March 7 and will end in April.
As I reported previously (See: “Largest Ever US-Korea Military Drill Focuses on Striking North Korea’s Leadership”):
[During the military drills] U.S.-ROK forces will (…) for the first time carry the OPLAN 5015, a classified war plan signed last year that includes surgical strikes against North Korea’s nuclear, missile, and command and control facilities. It also specifically calls for “decapitation” raids by Special Forces to neutralize North Korea’s senior leadership.
The Spartan 3000 unit, along with U.S. forces, carried out aspects of this top-secret war plan from March 7 to 18 during a joint amphibious landing drill.
Unlike the U.S. Marine Corps, South Korea’s light naval infantry force was from its inception designed to conduct special operations on land. It was founded just prior to the Korean War to hunt and destroy communist insurgents in the event of conflict.
The ROKMC currently consists of around 29,000 personnel divided up into two divisions and one brigade. The ROKMC’s Special Reconnaissance Division is specifically trained for infiltration operations in North Korea, including the elimination of the North’s nuclear, missile, and command and control facilities.
North Korea responded to the recent ROK-U.S. military drills by launching its own military maneuvers. The exercise was observed by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. “Any enemy group will never land in seashore of the country as our reliable artillerymen stand guard in full readiness to wipe out the aggressors,” Kim said, according to the Korean Central News Agency. The exercise purportedly involved the North Korean Navy’s East Sea Fleet and aircraft from the Air Force Second Air Division.