The South Korean government has allocated the first $ 310,000 to its newly created “decapitation unit,” which, in the event of war with Pyongyang, will be tasked with neutralizing its leadership and sabotaging crucial military facilities, local media report.
The ministry announced the first tranche of 340 million won ($ 310,000) Wednesday, South Korean media reported citing defense ministry sources. This sum, however, is just a fraction of the nearly $ 40 billion budget awarded to the ministry for 2018.
“The money will be spent on purchasing equipment for the special forces… The equipment includes suicide drones, surveillance drones and grenade machine guns,” a defense ministry official told the Korea Herald on condition of anonymity. Meanwhile, another official cited by Yonhap said the budget “will be used for such weapons as sub-machine guns for special operation purposes and drones.”
The ministry will reportedly be increasing the outfit’s budget as needed, with up to $ 23.7mn expected to be spent on boosting its combat power.
The so-called “decapitation unit” was established by the South Korean military under its Special Warfare Command on December 1. The team comprises roughly 1,000 highly-trained professionals and is modeled on the US Army Rangers, Delta Force, SEAL Team Six and the Green Berets.
Despite its somewhat misleading nickname, the decapitation unit is not necessarily tasked with assassinating North Korea’s leader himself. Instead, a source told the Korea Times following the launch, the elite squad’s mission will be to neutralize key government figures, or carry out an attack on heavily defended nuclear and missile facilities.
The launch came just days after Pyongyang’s ballistic missile launch on November 29. However, South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-Moo first referred to the unit’s creation in September, following Pyongyang’s sixth nuclear test.
Although the official launch has taken place and a budget awarded, the division will take time to become fully operational, according to experts cited by the Korea Herald. This is reportedly because it currently lacks some crucial assets, such as low-flying aircraft capable of delivering and deploying special warfare teams deep into North Korean territory.