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Despite other successes, Delta Force concluded that the 707th still had some work to do. Many allied foreign counter-terrorism units come to visit and train on the Delta Force compound at Fort Bragg. “We would embrace them if we knew and liked them and if we didn’t we would feel them out,” former operator George Hand said. There were some odd cultural differences between the American commandos and the Koreans. On top of that, there were some performance issues. “Their commander explained how they can’t go into a building unless they know the floor plan,” Hand remembered of the incident.
“Then you have excluded every building in Korea except your barracks,” the operator in charge of training replied.
“We also have to know where the targets are,” the Korean officer insisted.
“Then you also excluded your barracks.”
During the training exercise in the shoot house, Hand removed one of the paper targets from one room. To the horror of the Delta operators, a 707th soldier made entry into the room and fired several shots into the empty wall. “In his mind, he saw a target there,” Hand explained.
The following day, Hand came into work and asked why the Koreans were not there ready to train. As it turned out, they had been caught shop lifting at the Fort Bragg PX. They had “set up security positions, guards, overwatch, and had guys scooping stuff up and putting it under their jackets,” Hand said. The unit was flown back to South Korea that night. The reason for this poor showing may be partially explained by the South Korean police creating National Police Unit 868 which is also a counter-terrorism unit. By some accounts, 868 became the premier South Korean counter-terrorism unit and many of the best soldiers in the 707th left to join them.
In 1998, SOCOM commander General Peter Shoomaker and Command Sergeant Major Mel Wick stopped by the detachment for a visit. They liked what they saw but noted that members of the detachment are supposed to be a 2/2 (basic proficiency) in their target language, Korean in this case. At that time, only one member was that proficient. This caused some problems at the time, but several years later the situation had improved with about half of the detachment being able to speak Korean at the required level.
In 2000 SOC-K became SOCKOR, a full-fledged Theater Special Operations Command (TSOC). Det K continues to work at a tactical level while SOCKOR provides theater-wide command and control for Special Operations. During an outbreak of war with North Korea, SOCKOR would merge with Korean Special Warfare Command to form a Combined Unconventional Warfare Task Force (CUWTF). “In war time it is activated with a US deputy commander and integrated US/Korean staff and unit. The SOC is the US contribution to this task force under various war plans, which is a component of the combined forces command,” Colonel Dave Maxwell said. Korean Navy and Air Force personnel would be folded into the task force during war time, but as of yet there is no Korean version of Special Operations Command (SOCOM).
SOC-K started off with about a dozen people before morphing into SOCKOR with a staff of several hundred people. Detachment K remains a force with 11 or 12 Green Berets along with four or five support guys.
(Lead picture courtesy of the US Army)