North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Kim Jong Un Inspects Command Element of KPA SOF Unit and Guides Training Exercises

Kim Jong Un poses for commemorative photograph with service members and officers of the command element of KPA Unit #1973

Kim Jong Un poses for commemorative photograph with service members and officers of the command element of KPA Unit #1973

DPRK state media reported on 22 March (Friday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) inspected the command element of Korean People’s Army [KPA] Unit #1973.  KJU’s last reported public appearance was his observation and commanding of live fire anti-aircraft exercises using unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) and flack rockets.  At his inspection of the command element of KPA Unit #1973, KJU was accompanied by VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the KPA General Political Department), Hwang Pyong So (Deputy (vice) Director of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Organization Guidance Department), Lt. Gen. Pak Jong Chon (Staff member of the KPA Supreme Commander).

Kim Jong Un shakes hands with the commander of KPA Unit #1973 during a field inspection of the unit's command element (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

Kim Jong Un shakes hands with the commander of KPA Unit #1973 during a field inspection of the unit’s command element (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

Service members and officers of the command element of KPA Unit #1973 greet Kim Jong Un, upon his arrival at the unit (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

Service members and officers of the command element of KPA Unit #1973 greet Kim Jong Un, upon his arrival at the unit (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

Kim Jong presents an automatic rifle (L), a pair of binoculars (C) and poses for a commemorative photograph during an inspection of the command element of KPA Unit #1973 on 22 March 2013 (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

Kim Jong presents an automatic rifle (L), a pair of binoculars (C) and poses for a commemorative photograph during an inspection of the command element of KPA Unit #1973 on 22 March 2013 (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

Kim Jong Un is briefed on a historical monument marking a 2003 visit by his father Kim Jong Il to the command element of KPA Unit #1973.  Also seen in attendance is Hwang Pyong So (L) and VMar Choe Ryong Hae (2nd L) (Photo: KCTV screengrabs)

Kim Jong Un is briefed on a historical monument marking a 2003 visit by his father Kim Jong Il to the command element of KPA Unit #1973. Also seen in attendance is Hwang Pyong So (L) and VMar Choe Ryong Hae (2nd L) (Photo: KCTV screengrabs)

Kim Jong Un views the historical exhibitions during his inspection of the command element of KPA Unit #1973 on 22 March 2013 (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

Kim Jong Un views the historical exhibitions during his inspection of the command element of KPA Unit #1973 on 22 March 2013 (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

After arriving at the unit, Kim Jong Un presented an automatic rifle, a machine gun and a pair of binoculars to a unit subordinate to KPA Unit #1973, then posed for a commemorative photograph with its officers and service members.  KJU was briefed by unit commanders on a monument to Kim Jong Il’s field inspection of the unit in May 2003, and viewed the unit’s historical exhibition.   Kim Jong Un reminisced about Kim Jong Il’s observation of street warfare drills in November 2011.  According to KCNA, KJU “highly praised the unit for having always taken the lead in upholding the Military-First (So’ngun) revolutionary leadership of the Party” and “the Generalissimos attached importance to this unit and it is the unit he regards as the most important and the Party trusts, adding that his inspection of the unit today has a profound meaning.”

Kim Jong Un toured the unit’s assembly hall, library and education facilities, O Jung Hup Political University.  During his tour, KJU was informed “the unit produced 189 heroes of the republic and labor heroes and 19 recipients of the National Reunification Prize and that it has 21 hero companies” and remarked on “the need for the unit to fully prepare all its service personnel as those strong in idea and faith and members of a scouting party and a death-defying corps for national reunification fully equipped with the spirit of defending the socialist country by continuously paying primary attention to their political and ideological education,” according to KCNA.

KCNA reported that KJU “clarified the issues of properly working out the education program suited to the nature of the unit, successfully building ranks of teachers and improving their qualifications” and said “soldiers of the unit who should fight in the enemy-controlled areas can creditably perform their mission only when they are fully prepared not only in military technology and physically but politically and ideologically.”  Kim Jong Un then looked at a topographical map of ROK (South Korea) locales (presumably islands in the West [Yellow] Sea) and was briefed about KPA Unit 1973 operational plans and ongoing training activities.  KJU said the unit “has an important mission to conquer the strongholds of the enemy, he said once a war breaks out” and according to KCNA he remarked that “the unit should storm the heart of the enemies in a flash to strike and destroy the targeted military installations and reactionary ruling institutions of the puppet regime at a lightning speed” and “instructed the unit to correctly set major objects of its strike and grasp all major targets.”

Kim Jong Un also toured a unit subordinate to KPA Unit #1973 and “stressed the need to take good care of the living of the soldiers of the unit who would fight in the enemy-controlled areas” and “expressed expectation and conviction that the service personnel of the unit would demonstrate the mettle of the heroic KPA in a decisive battle with the enemies and defend the dear socialist homeland as firm as an iron wall.”

Kim Jong Un (2nd L) smiles during a tour the 2nd Battalion of KPA Unit #1973 on 23 March 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Kim Jong Un (2nd L) smiles during a tour the 2nd Battalion of KPA Unit #1973 on 23 March 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

On 23 March (Saturday) Kim Jong Un inspected KPA Unit 1973’s 2nd Battalion.  At this inspection he was accompanied by VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Gen. Hyon Yong Chol (Chief of the KPA General Staff), Gen. Kim Kyok Sik (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), Hwang Pyong So and Col. Gen. Son Chol Ju.  After arriving at the battalion’s headquarters, KJU presented a machine gun, automatic rifle and binoculars to the battalion, then posed for a commemorative photograph with the battalion’s service members and officers.  Kim Jong Un was briefed by the battalion commanders on a monument to an inspection of the unit by Kim Il Sung on 8 February 1974** and a field inspection conducted by Kim Jong Il in April 2000.  According to KCNA Kim Jong Un said, “the immortal exploits of the Generalissimos would always shine along with the colors of the unit.”

Kim Jong Un is saluted by the commander of the 2nd Battalion of KPA Unit #1973 (L) and greets commanding officers during a field inspection of the battalion on 23 March 2013 (Photo: KCTV screngrabs)

Kim Jong Un is saluted by the commander of the 2nd Battalion of KPA Unit #1973 (L) and greets commanding officers during a field inspection of the battalion on 23 March 2013 (Photo: KCTV screngrabs)

Kim Jong Un presents a machine gun, automatic rifle, is greeted by service members of the 2nd Battalion of KPA Unit #1973 and poses for a commemorative photo with them during a 23 March 2013 field inspection (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

Kim Jong Un presents a machine gun, automatic rifle, is greeted by service members of the 2nd Battalion of KPA Unit #1973 and poses for a commemorative photo with them during a 23 March 2013 field inspection (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

Kim Jong Un was also briefed about operations and training plans of the battalion and “its readiness to go into action and its training.”  Following the briefing, according to KCNA, KJU said

That only when all the combatants know about the enemies’ military targets and the puppet reactionary ruling quarters like the back of their own hands and are well informed of their features, can they storm the strongholds of the enemies in a flash and deal deadly blows at the heart of the enemies at once in case of emergency.

As the combatants should fight in the enemy-controlled areas without any flank and rear, it is necessary to conduct effective drills on topography among them so that they may have a correct understanding of the terrain.  Prepare them as one-match-for-a-hundred fighters with marksmanship of never missing targets and strong physical bodies.

The commanding officers should help soldiers be always aware that a war may break out after this moment and be concerned and thoughtful of whether there is any weak point in combat preparedness and whether the combatants are fully prepared to perform their duty in the enemy-controlled areas.

Kim Jong Un also “underlined the need for the officers to train all the combatants to be master hands and stalwart soldiers in a modern war by intensifying the drills” and said that “Our party trusts you,” according to KCNA and he “urged them to deal uninterrupted heavy blows at the enemies in that event, not allowing them to come to their senses, and annihilate them to the last man.”

Kim Jong Un views a topographical map and reviews operations plans and tours a food storage facility during a field inspection of KPA Unit 1973's 2nd Battalion on 23 March 2013

Kim Jong Un views a topographical map and reviews operations plans and tours a food storage facility during a field inspection of KPA Unit 1973’s 2nd Battalion on 23 March 2013

KJU also toured the battalion’s bean storage facility and farm and ” called on it (the 2nd Battallion) to reap a rich harvest in bean farming this year.”  Kim Jong Un toured the battalion’s library where he “underlined the need to establish the habit of revolutionary study among soldiers and raise the rate of use of books so that they may read many more books.”  KCNA reported that KJU “asked about the subjects of lectures given at the university and teaching staff in detail and taught ways of improving teaching to suit the psychology and characters of combat soldiers, showing deep care for O Jung Hup Universities of the large combined units.”

Kim Jong Un tours living quarters and a classroom of a company subordinate to the 2nd Battalion of a KPA Unit #1973, part of the country's special operations forces, on 23 March 2013

Kim Jong Un tours living quarters and a classroom of a company subordinate to the 2nd Battalion of a KPA Unit #1973, part of the country’s special operations forces, on 23 March 2013

He also toured the classrooms, living quarters, mess hall and recreational facilities of the Kim Sun Son Hero Company, subordinate to the 2nd Battalion of KPA Unit #1973.  During his visit to the classroom Kim Jong Un said “that the voice of the Party should always be heard in the company, cell of the People’s Army and main combat unit.”  According to KCNA Kim Jong Un remarked in an “excited tone” that “he feels very pleased when meeting commanding officers taking good care of soldiers whom the Party values and loves so much as he entrusted those soldiers to them and feels worth inspecting units as Supreme Commander when seeing service personnel well fed and happy.”

Service members of the 2nd Battalion of KPA Unit #1973 participate in a martial arts drill on 23 March 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Service members of the 2nd Battalion of KPA Unit #1973 participate in a martial arts drill on 23 March 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

SOF personnel serving in the 2nd Battalion of KPA Unit #1973 participate in small arms drills under the command of Kim Jong Un during his field inspection of the battalion on 23 March 2013 (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

SOF personnel serving in the 2nd Battalion of KPA Unit #1973 participate in small arms drills under the command of Kim Jong Un during his field inspection of the battalion on 23 March 2013 (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

Kim Jong Un observes SOF personnel serving in the 2nd Battalion of KPA Unit #1973 participating in small arms drills on 23 March 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Kim Jong Un observes SOF personnel serving in the 2nd Battalion of KPA Unit #1973 participating in small arms drills on 23 March 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Kim Jong Un then observed and guided the 2nd Battalion’s live fire exercises involving small arms combat.  He “highly appreciated their success in training and set forth important tasks which would serve as guidelines for bolstering up the combat capability in every way.”  KJU then ordered and managed the battalion commanders to participate in an impromptu small arms drill.  According to KCNA he said “that the combatants should acquire marksmanship of never missing targets while preparing themselves politically and ideologically and in militarily technique and physically. He taught the knack of all hits” and he “instructed the Military Science Documentary Film Studio of the Korean People’s Army to produce a video dealing with varieties of shooting methods and send it to the whole army so that the Chuch’e-oriented combat shooting methods may be coordinated.”

**Five days after Kim Il Sung’s field inspection of the 2nd Battalion of KPA Unit #1973, Kim Jong Il was elected a member of the KWP Political Committee (currently known as the Political Bureau) during the 8th session (plenum; plenary meeting) of the KWP Central Committee held on 13 February 1974.

Cover of the 24 March 2013 edition of Rodong Sinmun, showing KJU's inspection of the 2nd Battalion of KPA Unit #1973

Cover of the 24 March 2013 edition of Rodong Sinmun, showing KJU’s inspection of the 2nd Battalion of KPA Unit #1973

RS_240313p2

Top of Page 2 of the 24 March 2013 edition of Rodong Sinmun

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