South Korea’s Yonhap News agency reported on Monday that the USS Michigan, a submarine that sometimes moves special forces like the US Navy SEALs, would join the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group off of North Korea’s coast.
Sure enough, on Tuesday, the Michigan, a guided-missile, nuclear-powered submarine appeared in Busan, South Korea Fox News reports.
But Yonhap also reported on March 13 that SEAL Team 6 was training alongside South Korea’s own version of the SEALs for an attack to “incapacitate” North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
The US Navy has refused to comment to Business Insider on the movements of SEAL Team 6, the legendary group of Navy SEALs who took out Osama Bin Laden in 2011, and they don’t normally advertise the whereabouts of their submarines, as the craft are meant to be secretive.
In March, the Pentagon told Business Insider that the US does not train for decapitation strikes of any kind, but would not confirm or deny the presence of the SEALs in Korea.
The question of the SEALs’ presence in South Korea came during a flurry of activity on the peninsula. Each March, the US and South Korea conduct annual Foal Eagle and Key Resolve military drills, which bring a wide range of soldiers and platforms to the region.
Additionally, North Korea celebrates the anniversary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il Sung and the founding of its army in April. This year’s military parade unveiled an unexpected bounty of new missile types and modifications in North Korea’s inventory, with some of them proving particularly troubling for nonproliferation experts.
Meanwhile, the US has signalled a new confidence in their military options against the Kim regime, with US President Donald Trump himself at one point stressing that “if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.”
As a platform, the Michigan adds a stealth element and an extra set of eyes and ears to the already potent carrier strike group on North Korea’s coast, but it doesn’t add much firepower — US Navy destroyers accompanying the Vinson already have the kind of Tomahawk missiles equipped on the Michigan.
Though the North Koreans have threatened to sink the Vinson, US Pacific Command’s Adm. Harry Harris told Congress on Wednesday that as far as North Korea’s missile threats to the Vinson go “if it flies, it dies.”
But experts have repeatedly stressed to Business Insider that no credible military option exists against the Kim regime.
Even if the US somehow managed to decapitate the Kim regime, the country still technically operates under the leadership of their “forever leader” Kim Sung Il, who died in 1994.
In the decades since the eldest Kim’s death, North Koreans have remained fiercely loyal to the regime’s goals of progress towards nuclear and aggression towards the outside world, so it’s unlikely a single leader’s death would upset that.
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