U.S. special operations forces are set to conduct operations against North Korean nuclear, missile, and other weapons of mass destruction sites in any future conflict, the commander of Special Operations Command told Congress Tuesday.
Army Gen. Raymond A. Thomas stated in testimony to a House subcommittee that Army, Navy, and Air Force commandos are based both permanently and in rotations on the Korean peninsula in case conflict breaks out.
The special operations training and preparation is a warfighting priority, Thomas said in prepared testimony. There are currently around 8,000 special operations troops deployed in more than 80 countries.
"We are actively pursuing a training path to ensure readiness for the entire range of contingency operations in which [special operations forces], to include our exquisite [countering weapons of mass destruction] capabilities, may play a critical role," he told the subcommittee on emerging threats.
"We are looking comprehensively at our force structure and capabilities on the peninsula and across the region to maximize our support to U.S. [Pacific Command] and [U.S. Forces Korea]. This is my warfighting priority for planning and support."
Disclosure of the commander's comments comes as tensions remain high on the peninsula. President Trump has vowed to deal harshly with North Korea should another underground nuclear test be carried out. Test preparations have been identified in recent weeks, U.S. officials have said.
Trump said on Sunday that China appears to be pressuring North Korea but that he would be upset if North Korea carries out another nuclear test.