Rated as being second only to nuclear weapons, it is North Korea’s Special Forces.

Of the 200,000 North Korean commandos, about 150,000 belong to light infantry units, mainly man-powered. Their mission is to penetrate through enemy lines, to encircle or organize attacks from behind, on enemy forces. North Korea’s characteristic mountainous terrain favors such tactics. North Korea also organizes tunnel networks that are especially dangerous for the enemy. Eleven of North Korea’s special brigades, and each infantry division has a commando battalion.

North Korea has three special aviation brigades (38/48/58). The mission of these brigades, similar to those of the 82nd Airborne Division, is to conduct strategic operations, including airborne landings, capture of important terrain and infrastructure such as airports, government buildings, important roads, etc. Each brigade, with a total number of 3,500 men, is made up of six airborne battalions. Due to the lack of amphibious aircraft, North Korea’s special brigades are not capable of landing at battalion level or higher; nor can it operate outside of the Korean peninsula.

North Korea's special forces
North Korea’s special forces

North Korea is estimated to have eight sniper brigades. Each sniper brigade, numbering about 3,500 men, is organized into seven to ten sniper battalions. These units perform a variety of roles and closely resemble US Special Forces and Navy SEALs. Sniper brigades are trained in strategic reconnaissance, with missions including: assassinations, raids on high-level targets, military and economic targets; sabotage South Korea’s reserve system, secretly transporting weapons, and organizing guerrilla warfare operations.

These forces do not use North Korean Army uniforms and weapons but wear civilian clothes, or South Korean military clothes, even US troops. In an Army sniper brigade there will be a platoon of female snipers, numbering 30-40 people, trained to conduct combat operations in civilian clothes.

The last special force was under the Army Reconnaissance Department, with about four independent reconnaissance battalions. Each of these special battalion has about 500 men. These will be the first units to cross the line when there is a conflict situation between the two regions. According to American intelligence, the fifth battalion of the Bureau, is organized for overseas operations.

North Korean special forces often operate behind enemy lines. Amphibious vehicles are diverse, including secret tunnels, amphibious ships, submarines, and even civilian ships. North Korea has a fleet of about 200 very old An-2 light transport aircraft. It can fly at extremely low altitudes and slowly, to avoid radar. Each An-2 can carry up to 12 commandos, can land on short runways, or parachute. North Korea also has a fleet of about 250 transport helicopters, most of which are of Soviet origin, and a few Hughes 500MD light helicopters.

In the event of a war, North Korean special forces would likely organize separate attacks across South Korean territory. Even North Korean special forces have been trained to attack and destroy a mock-up of the South Korean Blue House. With pride and absolute loyalty to the regime, North Korea’s special forces are truly a formidable opponent to any enemy.

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