It's been a rough week for the communication staffs of the North Korean military and the U.S. military. Today, a U.S. official was replaced after mentioning a covert operation in North Korea and last night North Korea issued a military threat that is mathematically impossible. For two countries "within an inch of war" of each other, as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta put it recently, there sure is a lot of bungled talk going on.
Today, Brigadier General Neil Tolley, the commander of U.S. Special Forces in South Korea, is being replaced after stating that U.S. special forces have been parachuting into North Korea on covert ops missions. Tolley's statements, reported in the Tokyo-based foreign affairs magazine The Diplomat, were initially denied by the military until Tolley issued a statement saying he was accurately quoted but misspoke. (He was trying to discuss hypothetical parachute missions not actual ones, he said.) “In my attempt to explain where technology could help us, I spoke in the present tense," he said. "To be clear, at no time have we sent special operations forces into North Korea.” Officially, the military says the timing of Tolley's replacement is "merely coincidental," but either way, the communication mishap probably didn't cool tensions on the Asian peninsular.