Monday, June 28, 2010

Kim's Rain of Terror

This article in Canada’s National Post is well worth reading, lest anyone wishes to think that the military option actually exists.

North Korea has failed in every other measure of modernity except in its ability to dig in on its border and be able to inflict monumental damage on its neighbor.  As this makers clear, they could launch an attack tomorrow morning as a complete surprise to both ourselves and China.

It has also been long obvious that China has as much influence in North Korea as we have.

North Korea has kept its much more powerful opponents at bay by this promise of an imminent bloodbath that is effectively unavoidable.  As is clear, South Korea needs two weeks to mobilize while the North is ready now.

If North Korea has operational Atomic bombs, then the only way to deploy them is at the end of tunnels in the DMZ.  These can be miles long to reach critical concentrations.  They have had decades to drive these tunnels and it would have been deep and long to get well out of range of listening devices.  Digging would end once the bomb was placed.

It is actually feasible to drive a tunnel all the way to Seoul over the last fifty years.  We actually have an old mine tunnel that length just north of Vancouver that actually linked the Britannia mine to Indian Arm.  I have actually seen the mine exit and there is no doubt that it was driven from the other side.  You have to be looking for it.

The only problem is hiding the spoil.  So it is also possible that nothing so ambitious was ever attempted.  It is just that they could have.

North Korea’s deterrent has been to hold Seoul as hostage and it certainly has worked.  Our deterrent has been the total destruction of North Korea in response.

This military stalemate will end when China masses a million men on the border and forces the North Koreans to build defenses and put in manpower.

The economic war is long lost and this summer will see another wave of starvation in the countryside again.  The state has long proven to be able to control the resultant discontent.  Starving people are unable to actually revolt.

Kim's rain of terror

Peter Goodspeed, National Post · Saturday, Jun. 26, 2010

The opening battle of the next Korean War will be fought on the streets of Seoul, the world's 10th-largest city.
Just an hour's drive south of the lush green wilderness of the Demilitarized Zone, where snow-white Siberian cranes soar among hazy hills and a million soldiers glare at each other across the world's most heavily fortified frontier, Seoul is targeted in the crosshairs of 13,000 North Korean field artillery guns and multiple rocket launchers.
A symbol of South Korea's success, with ancient palaces and sleek new skyscrapers, it is one of Asia's most dynamic cities and its metropolitan area contains 22 million people or 45% of South Korea's population.
Yet, after 57 years of an uneasy armistice, if another war breaks out on the Korean peninsula, Seoul will be obliterated and millions will die.
After participating in a computer-simulated Korean war game in 2003, three years before North Korea exploded its first nuclear bomb, Kurt Campbell, the current U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, described the early days of any new Korean conflict as "a horrific symphony of death."
"We will win the war," he said. "But it will not be an easy war to fight."
Ever since the first Korean War ground to a halt in 1953, with a cease-fire instead of a peace treaty, soldiers on both sides of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) have been planning and preparing to resume fighting. As a result, decades of war games, military exercises and analytical reports have produced a nightmarish picture of what a Second Korean War will look like.
During a 1994 diplomatic crisis over North Korea's nuclear ambitions, South Korea's Defence Minister, Lee Yang Ho, said one computer simulation of a potential war projected a million dead, including thousands of U.S. troops.
The Pentagon estimates that without warning and without moving a single artillery piece, North Korea can now fire 500,000 artillery rounds an hour into South Korea for several hours without interruption.
Almost all its artillery is protected in hardened bunkers dug into the mountains along the DMZ, which are nearly impossible to destroy, even with sophisticated, satellite-guided precision weapons.
A North Korean attack could include chemical and biological weapons as well as high explosives.
In 2006, South Korea's Ministry of Defence estimated North Korea possessed 2,500 to 5,000 metric tonnes of biological agents, including anthrax, smallpox, cholera and plague.
South Korean civil defence planners predict 50 North Korean missiles carrying nerve gas could kill up to 38% of Seoul's inhabitants--more than eight million people.
Since October 2006, North Korea has had nuclear weapons. It is rushing to perfect its long-range missile technology so it can threaten the continental United States in the hope of deterring or defeating a possible U.S. attack.
Bruce Blair, president of the Center for Defence Information, estimates, "A single 15-kiloton plutonium bomb exploded by North Korea about one quarter mile above Seoul would almost certainly kill 150,000, severely injure another 80,000 and inflict significant injuries to another 200,000 city-dwellers."
North Korean society is designed for war and little else. One of the world's poorest nations, with only 22 million people, it has the world's third-largest army and fifth-biggest armed forces. It spends about 30% of its gross domestic product on defence and 40% of its people belong to a military or paramilitary formation.
Pyongyang's military doctrine still calls for the overthrow of the South Korean government and the imposition of a communist system across the Korean peninsula. As a result, 70% of North Korea's military manpower is stationed in offensive positions within 100 kilometres of the DMZ.
If North Korea did decide to attack or felt provoked or threatened by U.S. or South Korean actions, its military plans call for a blitzkrieg-style assault across the DMZ.
"A surprise attack on South Korea is possible at any time without a prior redeployment of its units. A war could explode after a warning of only a few hours or days, not weeks," said John Pike of,a research group devoted to defence issues. North Korea would first unleash a devastating barrage of artillery and rocket fire on U.S. and South Korean positions. Then its troops would pour across the border in a combined infantry and armoured assault. Because of the peninsula's mountainous terrain, this could duplicate the original Korean War, with armies advancing down the Kaesong-Munsan, Kumwa, and Chorwon corridors.
An alternative assault, suggested by John Collins, a retired U.S. Army colonel and former military specialist with the U.S. Congressional Research Service, could see North Korea explode a nuclear weapon in one of its undiscovered invasion tunnels beneath the DMZ.
South Korea has already discovered four such tunnels -- each large enough to accommodate the secret transfer of up to 10,000 soldiers an hour into South Korea. There may be 15 similar but still undiscovered tunnels under the DMZ.
North Korea might also try to disrupt U.S. reinforcement plans by trying to explode a nuclear device on board a ship or in a truck in the port of Pusan.
"The basic goal of a North Korean southern offensive is destruction of allied defences either before South Korea can fully mobilize its national power or before significant reinforcement from the United States can arrive and be deployed," explained Mr. Pike.
In any invasion, North Korea will have three strategic objectives: to penetrate defences along the DMZ; to seize and hold Seoul; and to control the peninsula before the United States can rush in reinforcements.
As part of an assault, it will launch ballistic missile attacks against high-level military command posts, seaports, air bases and communications and transportation centres.
Its army of 120,000 special force commandoes, the largest in the world, would also slip behind enemy lines to assassinate political leaders and sabotage sensitive targets.
Some analysts have speculated North Korea might preface an invasion by releasing massive walls of water from its dams above the DMZ.
According to,troops in South Korea will need to withstand a North Korean assault for up to 15 days, then hold the invaders to a standstill for another two to three weeks more before reinforcements arrive and mobilize for a counterattack that is designed to destroy North Korea's military and its dictatorship. A U. S.-South Korean counterattack will rely on a "shock and awe" use of air power never seen before in history. North Korea's geriatric air defences will be overwhelmed in a U.S. air assault that involves stealth aircraft with precision-guided bombs, tactical aircraft from air craft carrier battle groups and a storm of cruise missiles launched from submarines and surface fleets off the coast.
"North Korea is now probably the most watched country in the world by U.S. surveillance assets," said Stephen Baker, a retired U.S. rear admiral who studied Korean war scenarios for Washington's Center for Defence Information.
Every North Korean gun and tank emplacement along the DMZ, ammunition and supply depot, bridge and crossroad, resupply and reinforcement route, air field, naval facility, commando base, headquarters, command post, munitions factory, power station and important government building is on a target list.
"This strike would be devastatingly lethal and very intense," Adm. Baker said. "The goal would be to very quickly take away North Korea's will to fight and to stagger and isolate remaining [North Korean] formations, rendering them incapable of resisting."
James Woolsey, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Thomas McInerney, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant general, recently estimated the United States could stage 4,000 attack sorties a day against North Korea. That compares to just 800 sorties a day at the height of the "shock and awe" phase of the Iraq War.
In the long run, no one really expects North Korea to survive an all-out U.S.-led assault. It doesn't have the fuel, spare parts or air power to fight a sustained war. Its tanks and aircraft are obsolete.
In contrast to the 1950 invasion, North Korea, which just a few years ago was facing mass starvation, will be attacking prepared defences, manned by troops that have superior equipment and training.
The military imbalance between the two sides is so great qualitatively that U.S. and South Korean forces might be tempted to launch a pre-emptive attack on North Korea in the face of an extreme provocation, such as preparations for a nuclear attack or the sale of nuclear technology to terrorists.
A pre-emptive attack might promise to destroy or capture North Korea's weapons of mass destruction and could remove some of its ability to destroy Seoul. However, it is unlikely, simply because the risks to South Korea are still too huge.
Long-standing U.S. battle plans for Korea call for rushing up to 750,000 U.S. reinforcements to the peninsula for a counterattack. Two brigades' worth of equipment and ammunition is already stored in and near Korea so the U.S. Army and Marines can rapidly airlift troops into South Korea.
South Korean ground forces, with the support of the 28,000 U.S. troops permanently based in South Korea, will be obliged to stop an initial North Korean assault. But U.S. reinforcements of two full army division expect to launch a massive counteroffensive within two weeks of an outbreak of hostilities.
Part of that counterattack could include having U.S. Marines stage landings on both coasts of North Korea, seeking to cut the country in half at its narrow waist by capturing the east coast port of Wonsan and the North Korean capital Pyongyang.
"There is no doubt on the outcome," said Mr. Woolsey. "We judge that the U.S. and South Korea could defeat North Korea decisively in 30 to 60 days."
After 60 years of pugnacious provocations, sustained tensions between North and South Korea are probable and further military skirmishes are likely. But there is still a stabilizing sense of deterrence, said David Kang, director of Korean studies at the University of Southern California.
"Although the South Korean and U.S. militaries would clearly triumph in a war, the casualties and destruction on both sides of the peninsula would be horrific," he said.
In the end, no one knows anything for certain.
Christopher Griffin, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, warned, "All scenario-based planning exercises carry an inherent flaw: No matter how imaginatively we guess the future, time always will take us by surprise.
"Even if the U.S. has developed hundreds of scenarios while war-gaming a North Korean regime collapse, for example, none of them can predict the chaos that will surround the eventual end of North Korea's communist regime."

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