June 5 (Bloomberg) -- The commander of U.S. Special Forces in South Korea was replaced after he was quoted as saying American and South Korean units have been parachuting into North Korea to spy on its underground military facilities.
Brigadier General Neil Tolley is being replaced by Brigadier General Eric Wendt in a “routine” job rotation, Kim Young Ku, a public affairs officer at U.S. Forces Korea, said today in Seoul.
“It was time for him to leave,” Kim said, adding that the timing of the shift was “merely coincidental.” Wendt’s appointment was announced by the Pentagon on June 1.
The Diplomat, a Tokyo-based foreign affairs magazine, last week quoted Tolley as saying at a May 22 conference in Florida that American and South Korean special forces were sent to North Korea on reconnaissance missions. After first denying the comments, the U.S. military in Seoul put out a statement from Tolley saying that while he had been accurately quoted, he should have been clearer in his comments.
“The discussion was meant to address how technology could help us in the future,” Tolley said in a May 30 statement. “In my attempt to explain where technology could help us, I spoke in the present tense. To be clear, at no time have we sent special operations forces into North Korea.”
South and North Korea remain technically at war as the 1950-53 conflict ended without a peace treaty and the U.S. keeps 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea.
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