The Post in Question


Categorie: David Axe, North Korea, Special Forces |
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The Diplomat has yanked my “commandos in North Korea” story, under pressure from those who claim I “made up” Brig. Gen. Neil Tolley’s comments.

I did not make them up. Multiple sources confirm Tolley’s words. And I’m now told no transcript will be made available. U.S. Forces Korea is lying about what happened in the room with Tolley last week.

I will be demanding a retraction from U.S. Forces Korea. In the meantime, here’s the original post that The Diplomat pulled:


U.S. Commandos Spy on North Korea


U.S. Special Forces have been parachuting into North Korea to spy on Pyongyang’s extensive network of underground military facilities. That surprising disclosure, by a top U.S. commando officer, is a reminder of America’s continuing involvement in the “cold war” on the Korean peninsula — and of North Korea’s extensive preparations for the conflict to turn hot.

In the decades since the end of the Korean War, Pyongyang has constructed thousands of tunnels, Army Brig. Gen. Neil Tolley, commander of U.S. Special Operations Forces in South Korea, said at a conference in Florida on Tuesday. Tolley said the tunnels include 20 partially subterranean airfields, thousands of underground artillery positions and at least four tunnels underneath the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas. “We don’t know how many we don’t know about,” Tolley said.

“The entire tunnel infrastructure is hidden from our satellites,” Tolley added. “So we send [Republic of Korea] soldiers and U.S. soldiers to the North to do special reconnaissance.” Tolley said the commandos parachute in with minimal supplies in order to watch the tunnels without being detected themselves.

Tolley outlined new equipment he said would boost the spies’ capabilities without giving them away to North Korean troops. For starters, he said his men could use a lightweight sensor able to “characterize what’s in a facility from standoff distance.” In addition, the commandos would benefit from a High Frequency radio whose signal cannot be tracked back to its origin. Finally — and most dramatically — Tolley said a wireless power transmission system would allow his troops to jump into North Korea without heavy loads of batteries for their radios and other gear.


18 Responses to “The Post in Question”

  1. Gary says:

    Good on you, David, for standing your ground on this.

  2. [...] I attributed to Army Brig. Gen. Neil Tolley regarding U.S. surveillance operations in North Korea. See the original story here … and skepticism here and [...]

  3. [...] David Axe defends his story here. Related Topics: Military, National Security, Pentagon, Special [...]

  4. Brian says:

    This is all because they know you are a alien from another planet working as a Russian spy and are just trying to frame you to get you out of the way.

    On all seriousness, stick to it. This will all wash with your integrity intact.

  5. Jules Rivera says:

    Reason #358 I got out of working defense: backpedaling and politics. You’re a better man than me for having to deal with this nonsense. Stick to your guns and you’ll come out all right.

  6. [...] if the news that U.S. Special Forces have already parachuted into North Korea to perform surveillance operations on Pyongyang activities, reportedly (accidentally?) disclosed by [...]

  7. [...] that the words you heard came out of his [Brig. Gen. Neil Tolley's] mouth. I don’t believe what you wrote is inaccurate. … I heard him say those [...]

  8. David says:

    Wouldn’t be the first time a general said something in front of the press that he shouldn’t have; see Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

    Praying that your excellent reportage will not be sullied by these charges. Keep up the good work. I, for one, will keep reading.

  9. [...] Axe, while defensive about his ethics and integrity, is wobbly about defending his story now, according to the Post article. Update: There's a [...]

  10. Paralus says:

    It’s a poorly kept secret, but is the first time I’ve read a statement of it.

    I took an ROTC course as a civie back when it was still possible. The USAF Col. who taught it had been an Intel officer in the Pacific.

    He said North AND South both sent Special Ops guys, or ‘huge, physical-fitness nuts’ as he called them, into each other’s countries to probe and collect intel. Hell, North Korea has been caught trying to infil South Korea within this decade.

  11. [...] (typeof(addthis_share) == "undefined"){ addthis_share = [];}Two days ago, David Axe posted a short piece on the Diplomat blog reporting that a US general had indicated that US and ROK special forces could [...]

  12. [...] to a report by the Diplomat, the commander of U.S. forces in South Korea told an audience at a conference in [...]

  13. [...] North Korea, while speaking in the present tense, referring to current operations. Axe’s story “U.S. Commandos Spy on North Korea” was pulled from The Diplomat, which later posted a clarification suggesting that Tolley was [...]

  14. [...] North Korea, while speaking in the present tense, referring to current operations. Axe’s story “U.S. Commandos Spy on North Korea” was pulled from The Diplomat, which later posted a clarification suggesting that Tolley was [...]

  15. [...] Axe, the original reporter of the general’s comments — verbatim, without any context or suggestion they might not [...]

  16. [...] ailleurs, David Axe, journaliste spécialisé dans les affaires de défense, a rendu compte, récemment, de propos qu’aurait tenus le général Neil Tolley, le patron des forces [...]

  17. Laurent says:

    Interesting info to know. But I’m afraid it won’t help them in their mission. The contrary… Imagine the propaganda for North Korea if they capture some of them. I don’t want to.