PENTAGON - The Pentagon is denying a media report that quotes a top U.S. commander as saying the U.S. is parachuting special forces into North Korea to do reconnaissance missions.
The report in The Diplomat - an Asia Pacific current affairs magazine - quoted U.S. army Brigadier General Neil Tolley as telling a conference in the U.S. state of Florida last week that the U.S. sends soldiers to the north for special reconnaissance of North Korea’s underground military facilities.
Pentagon spokesman George Little on Tuesday dismissed the report, saying it took the general’s words out of context.
"My understanding is that the general's comments were contorted, distorted, misreported, and that there is in no way any substance to the assertion. Again, it was misreported that there are U.S. boots on the ground in North Korea. That is simply incorrect," Little said.
General Tolley heads the Special Operations Command of U.S. Forces Korea. The report quoted him as saying the North Korean military infrastructure, which includes an extensive network of tunnels, is hidden from U.S. satellites and it is for that reason the U.S. sends South Korean and American soldiers to do reconnaissance missions.
U.S. military officials did not immediately provide a transcript of Tolley’s remarks.
The U.S. military does not deny it conducts intelligence gathering on North Korea in order to assess Pyongyang's intentions and capabilities. But U.S. officials on Tuesday said parachuting soldiers in would be in violation of an armistice that ceased hostilities with the North nearly sixty years ago.