Report: New US special forces chief takes reins in Korea

Wendt, who was recently deputy commander of all American forces in eastern Afghanistan, assumed control of the U.S. special operations outfit during a change-of-command ceremony at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul, Stars and Stripes reports. 

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Tolley is scheduled to retire from the armed services by the end of this year. 

The Pentagon announced Wendt's promotion in June, shortly after Tolley mistakenly told reporters that American special operations forces under his command were conducting intelligence operations in North Korea a month earlier. 

American military officials in Washington and Seoul have repeatedly dismissed assertions the one-star was relieved of his South Korean command due to his comments earlier this year. 

Wendt's promotion was a routine move "in the works for months" and was in no way influenced by Tolley's comments during a special operations forces industry conference in Tampa, Fla. 

In May, the one-star general reportedly disclosed the existence of the North Korean intelligence operation. 

The troops had been brought in because U.S. and Western intelligence had not been able to verify the existence of the tunnel network via satellites or other surveillance techniques, Tolley reportedly said at the time.

American commandos have identified hundreds of underground munitions facilities, along with thousands of subterranean artillery positions, linked by a complex network of underground tunnels that run up to the Demilitarized Zone that separates North and South Korea, the one-star reportedly told the audience Tampa. 

Pentagon and military officials quickly dismissed such reports, claiming Tolley had been misquoted by reporters in attendance during the conference. 

Later that June, Tolley admitted that he was quoted accurately in the original reports, but added that he “misspoke" and the United States had not sent special-operations forces into North Korea.

“The discussion was meant to address how technology could help us in the future,” Tolley said in a statement released that month.