Top US general warns of 'tough' North Korean ground war

Says he 'hopes it doesn't happen'


Gen. Robert Neller

(CNN) - In a remarkably blunt assessment, the head of the US Marine Corps warned Thursday that a conflict with North Korea could involve an exceptionally bloody ground war.

Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, did not pull any punches: "It will be a very, very kinetic, physical, violent fight over some really, really tough ground and everybody is going to have to be mentally prepared."

Neller did not directly address recent tweets by both President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un about their respective "buttons" that they could push to launch military attacks, but he did say that war with North Korea would be a "different sort of fight" that wouldn't just involve "a bunch of things flying around."

But the nation's top Marine made clear he isn't predicting a war with North Korea: "I wasn't saying it's going to happen. I hope it doesn't happen, I don't want it to happen."

But he did note that when he has recently talked to Marines in the field, he warned they had to be ready to fight: "When they train, they have to keep in the back of their mind, they have to be (ready) physically, mentally, and always their spirit has to be steeled and ready for serious conflict that's going to test them beyond anything they have ever done in their lives, that was my only intent. And I'll say that as long as I'm in this office because that's my job."

Neller said the US would have to be ready for unexpected circumstances given the amount of ground artillery North Korea has on hand. But he made clear that all the US military services have prepared for a variety of scenarios including familiarization with North Korean terrain.

He said that US troops are continuing to train with a focus on night operations and moving without being detected as well as maintaining communications without being jammed.

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