Massive joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises are a spring ritual on the Korean Peninsula guaranteed to draw a lot of threat-laced venom from Pyongyang. This time, not only are the war games the biggest ever, but the troops now massed south of the Demilitarized Zone have reportedly incorporated a new hypothetical into their training: a “beheading mission” against Kim Jong Un himself.
Pyongyang, already feeling the squeeze of new sanctions over its recent nuclear test and rocket launch, is taking a plethora of “beheading mission” reports from the South Korean media very seriously. That goes a long way toward explaining why its own rhetoric has ratcheted up a decibel – even by its own standards of bellicosity.
“Decapitation strikes” are targeted attacks to eliminate an adversary’s leader, or leaders, in an attempt to disrupt or destroy its command chain as soon as a crisis breaks out or appears imminent. They are seen as particularly effective against enemies with a highly centralized command focused on a small group, or one leader.
According to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, the Key Resolve-Foal Eagle exercises will include training and simulations of surgical, pre-emptive strikes on nuclear and missile sites, along with training for a “beheading operation” aimed at removing Kim Jong Un and toppling his government in the event of a war.
The U.S. has used such strikes, often employing drones, to take out key figures in terrorist groups.