The annual Foal Eagle military drills between the United States and South Korea will include some heavy hitters this year — the Navy SEAL team that took out Osama bin Laden, Army Special Forces, and F-35s — South Korea’s Joon Gang Daily reports.
South Korean news outlets report that the SEALs, who will join the exercise for the first time, will simulate a “decapitation attack,” or a strike to remove North Korea’s leadership.
Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Gary Ross later told Business Insider that the U.S. military “does not train for decapitation missions” of any kind.
Yet a decapitation force would fit with a March 1 Wall Street Journal report that the White House is considering military action against the Kim regime.
The SEALs boarded the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and should arrive in South Korea on Wednesday, Joon Gang Daily reports.
South Korea has also made efforts toward a decapitation force, and international calls for action have increased in intensity after North Korea’s latest missile test, which simulated a saturation attack to defeat U.S. and allied missile defenses.
“It will send a very strong message to North Korea, which is constantly carrying out military provocations,” a ministry official told Joon Gang Daily.
The Foal Eagle exercise includes 3,600 U.S. troops, in addition to the 28,000 U.S. troops permanently stationed in South Korea. The drills include air, land, and sea operations designed to prepare the joint forces in case of a conflict with North Korea.
This year’s exercise also integrates preparation for the deployment of U.S. missile defenses to South Korea.
Additionally, the U.S.’s newest combat aircraft, the F-35, will fly in to simulate attacks on North Korea‘s missile infrastructure, Joon Gang Daily reports. The F-35 will accompany many of the US’s most high end platforms, like F-22s and a nuclear-powered submarine.
“A bigger number of and more diverse US special operation forces will take part in this year’s Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercises to practice missions to infiltrate into the North, remove the North’s war command and demolition of its key military facilities,” the an unnamed military official told South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.
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UPDATE: This story was updated to include a statement from the Pentagon (Updated 3/14/2017; 3:56 pm).