The United States is apparently taking its war planning underground.
NPR reported Tuesday that soldiers in the Army's 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions will soon learn the nuances of tunnel warfare in anticipation of a possible armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula. Additionally, NPR says that the Army is buying night vision goggles, radios, and torches to help soldiers navigate these tunnels.
U.S. officials have long thought tunnel warfare would be a large part of any potential war effort on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea has reportedly built over 5,000 tunnels. Some of the them, NPR notes, might contain chemical and nuclear weapons, while others apparently come near the South Korean capital city of Seoul. To make matters worse, some of these tunnels apparently burrow hundreds of feet into the ground. "Those tunnels, so far below the surface, would be safe from most missiles and bombs dropped by aircraft or fired from the sea," NPR says.
Although North Korea and South Korea held their first diplomatic talks since 2016 on Tuesday, the White House is apparently giving serious consideration to launching a limited strike on North Korea, should it conduct another missile test. If the crisis does explode into all-out war, previously unearthed tunnels could provide a hint of what U.S. and South Korean soldiers would find in their underground excursions; a New York Times story from last year notes that a tunnel found in the 1970s "could have accommodated up to 30,000 troops an hour."
Watch a video below of one of the tunnels. Kelly O'Meara Morales