YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Almost 200 leaders of military special-operations forces, scholars and other experts met here this week to discuss current and future tactics involving North Korea, according to U.S. Forces Korea officials.

The United Nations Command Special Operations Forces Conference shared information on North Korea to better plan how to use special-operations forces in case of the communist country’s collapse or conflict, according to Brig. Gen. Richard W. Mills, the commander of Special Operations Command Korea.

One of the biggest planning steps involves understanding the cultures, he said. South Korea has become one of the world’s economic powers, Mills said during an interview Tuesday morning. North Korea has not.

“The deviation between that has gotten more significant every year,” said Mills, who will wrap up his three years in South Korea later this summer. To respond to any threat, “you have to understand how the people and the regime are living today.”

For more than five years, military special-operations forces from the U.S. and South Korea have trained together, Mills said, adding, “Deterrence is about being trained and ready” to make a rapid response when needed.

But South Korea’s special-operations forces also work with and would receive help from the UNC, an international force that would expand in time of crisis, Mills said.

This week’s meetings put scholars and military experts in the same room to talk and disagree about North Korea, Mills said.

He said special-operations forces must be ready for three scenarios when it comes to the Korean peninsula: daily deterrence, the North Korean regime’s possible collapse and open conflict.

In case of war, special-operations forces would provide the “eyes and ears” on the ground to help build response strategy, Mills said. If North Korea’s regime collapsed, they’d be used early to assess the country, provide humanitarian assistance and possibly resolve or detain any opposition forces left, he said.

Mills also talked Tuesday about changes special-operations forces will undergo as the U.S. military transforms. He said overall the forces’ size would increase but in South Korea the unit would remain the same.

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