We’ve learned that U.S. Army Brigadier General Neil Tolley is being rotated from his post as head of U.S. Special Forces in South Korea days after he ignited a controversy by declaring that U.S. and South Korean special forces have been parachuting into North Korean on spy missions.
Initially, the U.S. military said Tolley was the innocent victim of “made up” quotes by David Axe, who reported the news in the Asian journal The Diplomat. “Quotes have been made up and attributed to him,” its statement said. But Sean Naylor, long-time reporter for Army Times quickly spoke up, saying he’d heard Tolley say the same thing at a Tampa special-ops confab (which, come to think of it, seems like a contradiction). But by the time Naylor came to Axe’s aid, The Diplomat had scrubbed Axe’s original story from its website, suggesting his reporting had been suspect, if not wrong.
But, after a couple of days, Tolley himself tweaked the story anew. “After further review of the reporting,” he said, “I feel I was accurately quoted.” He said he had been speaking hypothetically, and that such missions have never occurred.
The U.S. military is saying Tolley’s move, after 18 months in the job, is part of a normal rotation.
Meanwhile, from the North, the general staff of the North Korean People’s Army announced its troops have targeted the Seoul headquarters of the Chosun Ilbo, the Joongang Ilbo, and the Dong-A Ilbo newspapers as well as KBS, MBC and SBS television stations, and CBS radio:
Officers and men of the army corps, divisions and regiments on the front and strategic rocket forces in the depth of the country are loudly calling for the issue of order to mete out punishment, declaring that they have already targeted Chosun Ilbo at coordinates of 37 degrees 56 minutes 83 seconds North Latitude and 126 degrees 97 minutes 65 seconds East Longitude in the Central District, Seoul, Choongang Ilbo at coordinates of 37 degrees 33 minutes 45 seconds North Latitude and 126 degrees 58 minutes 14 seconds East Longitude in the Central District, Seoul, the Dong-A Ilbo at coordinates of 37 degrees 57 minutes 10 seconds North Latitude and 126 degrees 97 minutes 81 seconds East Longitude in Jongro District, Seoul, KBS, CBS, MBC and SBS, the strongholds of the [South Korean President] Lee [Myung-bak] group orchestrating the new vicious smear campaign.
The North Korean army hasn’t issued a statement like this before. It’s widely seen as a sign of the impotence of North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong un.
It’s most likely more of the rhetoric for which North Korea is known (although Battleland knows more than a few U.S. military officers who have wished such an option were open to them over the years). Unlike General Tolley – who deserves credit for ultimately setting the record straight — don’t expect the Korean People’s Army to concede error.