The United States Forces Korea (USFK) conducted a surgical strike drill simulating targeted attacks on major North Korean facilities, officials said Friday, amid tensions on the Korean Peninsula over the North’s missiles launches. The Exercise Teak Knife was conducted at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of Seoul, on Sept. 13, which provided opportunities for U.S. special tactics airmen “to practice skillsets used in special operations across the Indo-Pacific,” the U.S. Special Operations Command Korea said in its recent Facebook post.
The program included “a free fall insert, C-130J tactical landing, and fast rope insertions from three MH-60 Seahawks,” and many garrison units and U.S. Navy members also took part in the exercise, which “maximized unit and individual readiness. The exercise took place one day after North Korea test-launched a new type of long-range cruise missile, and the command uploaded the post on Sept. 15 when the North fired two ballistic missiles in violation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions.
The U.S. military has carried out the exercise regularly since the 1990s, often together with South Korean troops, but it is unusual for it to make the matter public. The exercise involves simulated attacks on key facilities in North Korea, such as its missile and nuclear installations. The last time the U.S. military announced the details of the exercise was 2017. Peace efforts involving North Korea gathered pace in 2018, when the U.S.-North Korea summit was held for the first time ever.
Amid stalled denuclearization talks with the U.S., North Korea has been gradually heightening tensions on the Korean Peninsula in recent months. In protest over the regular summertime exercise between South Korea and the U.S., Pyongyang last month warned of “a serious security crisis,” and test-fired missiles earlier this month for the first time in nearly six months. The North Korea has also shown signs of restarting a plutonium-producing reactor and expanding uranium enrichment facilities at its mainstay Yongbyon nuclear complex.