South Korea’s first line of defense against North’s nuclear threat – CNN
Staging drills deep underground also makes the training more realistic. Many of North Korea’s nuclear and chemical facilities are believed to be below ground, out of sight of satellites.
Sgt. Cameron Armstrong is one of the team being put through his paces in this drill. “Going into North Korea, it’s pretty likely that the mountainous terrain will provide caves and underground facilities for them to be utilizing as weapons facilities,” he says.
Being here, so close to the potential threat, is a compelling reason for this battalion to be based here on the Korean peninsula. Returning to South Korea in 2013 after an eight year absence, members of the battalion say the proximity to potential nuclear material makes their training far more real.
Sgt. Michael Thron is part of a four-man crew manning a specially-modified Stryker armored vehicle, which can detect chemical elements up to two miles or three kilometers away.
Speaking about the importance of being based in South Korea, he says, “Not only does it make it more crucial but it makes it more realistic and it helps us keep our focus.”
A focus that is currently on North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, but 1st Lt. Greg Moxcey, a chemical response team leader, cautions against dismissing Pyongyang’s chemical capabilities.
“Chemical weapons are probably the greater concern,” he says.
“Because you have no idea where they can be used and how many there possibly are.”