By Paula Hancocks, CNN
SEOUL, South Korea — The Pentagon has announced a replacement for the U.S. General in charge of Special Operations in Korea a week after controversy broke over comments he made on North Korea.
Brigadier General Neil Tolley was reported as saying U.S. and South Korean troops parachute into North Korea to spy on underground military facilities. Tolley admitted he was not misquoted at a conference in Florida last month, rather he misspoke.
Jennifer Buschick, spokesperson for US Forces Korea tells CNN, “This is a routine announcement that has been in the works for months” and Tolley’s replacement “has no connection to current events.” Buschick added that he is just two months away from the end of his two year tour. He will be replaced by Brig. Gen. Eric P. Wendt, currently serving in Afghanistan.
After the U.S. Ministry of Defense initially slammed the report of Tolley’s remarks as “contorted, distorted, misreported”, the Brigadier General then made a clarification, saying, “In my attempt to explain where technology could help us, I spoke in the present tense. I realize I wasn’t clear in how I presented my remarks.” He does however insist that at no time has the United States sent special operations forces into North Korea.
Such cross-border operations into North Korea would be in violation of the 1953 armistice agreement that brought the Korean War to an end. The existence of such operations would also jeopardize already strained and sensitive relations between Washington and Pyongyang.