U.S. Army training for tunnel warfare in North Korea

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division made their way through a subterranean tunnel to search for enemy combatants during Warrior Strike IX last month.

Warrior Strike IX is a regularly scheduled combined training exercise between the U.S. Army and the Republic of Korea Army. Warrior Strike IX is a 4-day training event taking place at multiple locations throughout South Korea.

The Army’s tunnel training is nothing new as it relates to current operations in Afghanistan. What is new is the additional brigades that have been slotted for training with the threat from North Korea increasing.

Spokesmen for the 101st Airborne Division and the 82nd Airborne Division, which are slotted to complete the training this year, would not comment on the additional training but officials say the Pentagon is purchasing more specialized equipment for these operations, such as acetylene torches and bolt cutters for tunnel operations.

North Korea has as many as 5,000 tunnels, some that reach hundreds of feet underground, and are protected from aerial bombing.  One report suggests that some North Korean tunnels were found to cross the border with South Korea, coming close to the capital.

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, at his confirmation hearing in 2001, called North Korea “world class tunnelers.”

“They have gone underground across that country in a way that few nations have done,” he said. “They have underground emplacements of enormous numbers of weapons.”


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