A newly established South Korean army brigade known as the “decapitation unit” has been allocated 340 million won ($310,000) to purchase equipment including drones and grenade machine guns.
The country’s Ministry of National Defense announced the budget for the unit, intended to eliminate North Korean leader Kim Jon Un, on Wednesday. The figure is a small fraction of the 42.2 trillion won (nearly $40 billion) budget the ministry is awarded for 2018, but officials said the budget for the unit will increase in the future.
“The money will be spent on purchasing equipment for the special forces,” a defense official said, quoted in The Korea Herald. “The equipment includes suicide drones, surveillance drones and grenade machine guns,” the official added.
The ministry formed the long-anticipated unit on December 1, made up of 1,000 soldiers from the army’s special forces command who are tasked with getting rid of the North Korean war command in case of conflict.
The special brigade will need further assets before becoming fully operational, such as low-flying aircraft to transport the unit into action. The ministry said it will carry out a purchasing plan over the next year and increase the budget as needed. “A total of 26 billion won [$24 million] will be spent to enhance the unit’s warfighting capability,” the official was quoted as saying.
The South Korean defense budget for next year has increased by 7 percent from 2016—the biggest expansion in the military budget since 2009. The “decapitation unit” was not the only addition to the country’s military, as the army plans to form a weaponized drone combat unit to conduct surveillance operations and mobilize launch attacks if necessary.
Though bolstering the country's military, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has strongly opposed the possibility of a pre-emptive strike on North Korea, despite Pyongyang's repeated missile test launches. Reacting to North Korea’s launch of a new, more powerful intercontinental ballistic missile on November 29, Moon urged Pyongyang to give up its pursuit of nuclear missiles capable of reaching the U.S. and return to the negotiation table.
"Should North Korea complete developing a ballistic missile that reaches other continents, the situation could deteriorate beyond repair," Moon said, according to chief press secretary Yoon Young-chan, quoted in South Korean news agency Yonhap. "We must prevent the possibility that North Korea may misjudge the situation and threaten us with its nukes or the United States may consider a pre-emptive strike," he added.
The U.S. and South Korean air forces are currently engaged in five-day aerial drills involving 230 aircraft taking part in simulated strikes. Pyongyang denounced the drills as provocations, pushing the Korean Peninsula to “the brink of nuclear war.” North Korea’s Foreign Ministry reiterated the country’s opposition to the drills in a statement on Wednesday, saying the outbreak of a war on peninsula had become “an established fact” and a matter of when, not if.
More from Newsweek