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April 03, 2013

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North Korea may have a large standing army, but this is an era in which wars are no longer fought on the battlefield. The first strike from the U.S. will be a stealthy annihilation of military assets via air raids and long-range missiles. I sincerely hope that North Korea stands down or China leans on them to do so.

North Korea is another part of Chinas growth economic plan .The US bcomes poorer every day spending trillons as world cop while China grows wealther.

My wife is Korean, and her brothers (who are still in Korea and two are ex-military field-grade officers) and her friends and relatives (many in the government) are not worried at all. They all see it as a baby crying when something has been taken away. North Korea just needs its fix of aid money and food.

There is always the outside chance some mistake or miscue could trigger something far worse, but even the sinking of a ROK navy ship hardly caused a blip. I'm not sure either Korea is as ready as we think they are for real combat. No. Korea has old equipment and a starving oppressed people, but So. Korea has entered a new prosperity and has gotten pretty fat and happy.

As a side note, in the 1960s, my brother-in-law as a lieutenant found a group of No. Korean infiltrators and ordered his platoon to rush them. When he got to the infiltrators, he realized his men had never moved. Fortunately for him, the 'enemy' was more than willing to surrender to a lone gunman. This was when the ROK was vaunted during the US debacle in Vietnam.

Thanks for throwing up a lantern on what is one of the more confusing and sobering - (?) or not - developments in recent history.

I wonder if this affects us Cold War boomers more psychologically more than it does later generations... I can see us being alternately more cynical and more paranoid.

Our experience with existential threats has not been particularly happy, especially since the real aim of scaremongering has been to elevate the hysteria, and in so doing, the budget of the military-industrial complex. North Korea could conceivably do a lot of damage to South Korea. But would China really get sucked into a devastating war defending it? Anything is possible, as some say, which is why we wasted trillions on the Iraqi delusion. In the meantime, the one real global existential threat - global warming - continues unabated and mostly ignored. We are fools.

I'm sick to the death of Park Junk 3...

Or whatever you want to call the latest iteration of this North Korea dictator-family. He is a fat, little son-of-a-privileged bitch and I'd like to see a drone make a greasy spot out of him posthaste.

For sure: The sooner the better. Take out as many of his top echelon in a multi-fell-swoop of drones as is possible, and then "dictate" the terms of surrender to the next N. Korean asshole that raises his hand to be in power.

Bottom line: the world is too fragile to tolerate a rogue state like this. They need to have their asses handed to them posthaste, before they get one more nuclear weapon.

But keep in mind I am a liberal hawk:

If I was president in March of 2001, the Taliban would never have dynamited the Buddhas of Bamiyan. I'd have troops on the ground preventing that. I'd have kicked the Taliban's ass before it allowed Bin Laden to carry out his plans. The world would be different for sure...

And I feel the same hostile way towards the latest and greatest iteration of North Korean prickhood. If I am President (April, 2013), I am laying up multi-plans to make a happy time meal out of Park Chung Fat Suey...

That wealthy little privileged fuck is dangerous.
Kill. Him. Now.

Hate will put the world into flame / What a shame...
-Eric Burden
Please Send Me Someone To Love

Its really too late to drone them or do anything, because having the BOMB changes everything. The fat fuck HAS to be listened to now.

It so happens the US Army visited yesterday and the question was asked by our CEO what threat do they see in 2024 (at end of the project)? The US Army response: Russia.

I repeat, every time we react and deploy China wins another economic game.
The dragon has grown wings and is fire breathing the feathers off the American eagle.

koryel finds N.K.'s Kim intolerable, and suggests that military action to take him out would improve the world

In 1998, many people felt the same way about Saddam Hussein in Iraq. By 2002, some of the people who felt that way were powerful enough steer the US into full-scale pre-emptive attack and invasion.

How'd that work out?

The difference between possibly removing the N. Korean dictator and removing Iraq's is that there could possibly be a reunification of the two Koreas. Something along the lines of West/East German reunification.

"I repeat, every time we react and deploy China wins another economic game.
The dragon has grown wings and is fire breathing the feathers off the American eagle." - cal lash

False. The American people own most of their own debt. China only holds a very small fraction. $4.6 trillion is owned by the federal government in trust funds for programs like social security. $10 trillion is owned by individual investors, corporations, state and local governments. China does hold Treasury bills, notes and bonds but only to the tune of $1.2 trillion (out of more than $14.6 trillion). Japan may soon own more of our debt than China.

Ok dollar wise but i tend to believe China is using N korea to play economic games. somewhere out there i read something along the line about China.

Almost no online time tonight. If North Korea attacks South Korea, using conventional force, and the United States is pledged to defend South Korea, then nuclear arsenals don't enter into it. Does anybody remember the outcome of the Korean War? It wasn't victory for the United States. It was a stalemate. In order to gain that stalemate the United States needed to provide a substantial ground invasion force. The idea that standoff weapons can end modern wars has been thoroughly falsified. Gotta run and catch the last bus.

Emil, it depends and what you consider "standoff weapons". Yes, in the 50's conventional ground forces fought to a stalemate, but sophisticated weaponry of today put an end to that. There is also the possibility of using EMP "bombs" (have been in development by the U.S. military for sometime) to knockout communication and power which would make a large scale N. Korean invasion ineffective.

Phxsun fan. I Failed to clarify
i was talking policy not numbers
i cant recall where i read in depth about the subject but but the article sounded credible.

Sounds like that rosy cheeked, bad haircut, spoiled brat has you folks all riled up.

Cal, you called it. China and most of the world thinks in generational time.

Only the US of A thinks in nano-seconds.

Our whole country has ADHD.

I've read that China's hand could be forced to abandon their support of North Korea altogether. That is the growing sentiment of Chinese intellectuals and financial researchers at universities:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-02/china-backs-north-korea-economic-zone-amid-kim-nuclear-threat.html

Ruben, the debt is a long-term issue. You are correct that most people don't think of it that way...even in the world. Otherwise China would be more concerned with the long-term consequences of their environmental policy (or lack thereof).

Joel:

In 1998, many people felt the same way about Saddam Hussein in Iraq. By 2002, some of the people who felt that way were powerful enough steer the US into full-scale pre-emptive attack and invasion. How'd that work out?

I've recently gone fishing to find my comments from 10 years ago. As I was one of those that got the Iraq war correct. That is to say: That it was a wrong-headed stupid war. I vociferously opposed it, when all about me were losing their heads over yellow-caked Nigerian matter in a dead dog's eye...

Being correct is having a sense in knowing when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em, when to raise them, and when to say "This is bushshit." A lot of that is intuition and wisdom and sotto voce clues...

Iraq was BS. But that doesn't mean North Korea necessarily is...

Keep in mind I am not advocating a war with NK. Although it they want one it may will be time to give it to them. I am however advocating taking out its leadership via skunkworks or drone strike or a bomb in a basketball. Whatever it takes. This Park guy is as deformed and empathy-deficient as was Hitler. If you had a chance to go back in history and drone strike Hitler into a greasy spot would you?

Or would you let liberal pacifism and "do no evil" philosophy stifle your hand?

Sometimes a little well placed violence is necessary. It is a judgement call. A wisdom decision. And if I am President Obama, I am looking to get my finger on the laser's trigger and take this decay out of the world's mouth in one fell blast of light...

The planet will be the better for it.

The question nobody knows the answer to is: How much better? My intuition tells me "a whole lot" and that the failure to act now will have grave repercussions...

We can be sure the guys "up top" are much more aware of our need to check in with China on anything we do in that theater - much as they're (we're) loathe to admit it. So, yea, there's a fair amount of chain-yanking coming from the dragon, I'm sure.

As for the Hitler counterfactual: I've thought about that sort of thing many times, and I tend to think that if Hitler was destroyed or "leashed" before his atrocities, then Fascism would probably have had a much stronger grip on the 20th century. No New Deal, Unions, etc. The man and the philosophy had a great deal of support before he became an obvious embarrassment. And it's not like the love affair with Fascism has ended, by any means - though very few supporters will call it that.

Great comments.

Does our experience with Iraq make us wiser or less wise? The French general staff was always perfectly prepared to fight the last war, not the war they were actually in.

Is Kim more dangerous because of his youth? Here's a nuanced take:

http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/04/05/how_worried_should_we_be_about_kim_jong_un_s_youth

Are there rational reasons why North Korea might want war now? Well, in 1941, facing a US oil embargo, Toyko reasoned it would never be stronger than that moment and delaying war would only increase America's advantage.

Perhaps Kim and his generals wonder if they will never have a better situation than now, with nukes and China as nominal ally. I.e., China might distance itself as time goes on, so provoke a war that would ensure Chinese protection now. Who knows, but such calculations have been made before (Also Hitler in Operation Barbarossa).

There is also a question of whether this is a "rational" regime. Without that, all deterrence theory falls apart. Forgive the analogy, but your Republican friends and neighbors show how dogma can trump reality. Imagine how much more severe the disconnect in Pyongyang? Anyway, Kim's granddad was a gambler. He launched the Korean War in June 1950 betting the U.S. would not intervene (Stalin, noting that Acheson had absentmindedly not included Korea in a speech on American vital interests, gave the go-ahead).

Back to 1914: Few imagined that events could spiral so out of control from an isolated event.

And none of this is a call for neocon foolishness.

koryel :

I salute your early opposition to the Iraq catastrophe, and your artful John Lennon allusion.

The recurring pattern of NK behavior is that their escalations have been a desperate plea to be bought off (again). They're weak, poor, and starving; they bluster; we give them some money or other aid, and they back off. Perhaps this time it's different.

But I'm not sanguine that we can predict or control the outcome of an open, pre-emptive attack on Kim. Seoul is too close to the NK artillery; Juche is too close to the kind of fanaticism that produces Al Queda and kamikaze attacks. If you think you can predict China's reaction, more power to you; I know I cannot.

And if we've learned anything from Iraq, it should be that it's relatively easy to decapitate a polity, but the aftermath will be fraught.

I agree that the world would be a better place if the NK leadership were to be suddenly dead; but I hope the US takes no steps in that direction, because I fear unintended consequences.

kim jung un reminds me of the deformed eggs Sherwood Anderson wrote about in a short story, The Egg.
He gets heated up and melts

And Juan Cole runs the North Korean military stats:

http://www.juancole.com/2013/04/korea-threat-about.html

They have 8 nukes... In the hands of boy who has been told he is "special" since infancy.

Why would N. Korea give us a reason to use the one advantage we have-our nuclear capability.Their only hope would be to draw us into a land war and we know how that worked out in Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Bin Laden played us like a harp and he even wrote and said what he wanted us to do-Invade and be drained of our resources and will.

Resource drain just my point

After thinking about this some more, I'm going to increase my support for Mr. Talton's position.

North Korea plows most of its economy into its military. It citizens might be starving, but its soldiers are not. According to WorldFirepower, North Korea has 5,400 tanks (third in the world behind the U.S. with 8,325 and China with 7,950). South Korea has 2,500 tanks; less than half than the North, but possibly in better shape and newer. Both countries have roughly equal numbers of armored fighting vehicles. The North has an air-force with about 1,700 planes total and 273 helicopters; South Korea has less than 900 total aircraft including 97 helicopters. North Korea has roughly 1.1 million active frontline troops, with a reserve of 8.2 million; South Korea has less than 700,000 active frontline troops and a reserve of 1 million, with an additional 3.5 million paramilitary troops; there are 28,000 U.S. troops there. North Korea also has nearly 300 amphibious assault craft, and large numbers of self-propelled artillery guns (exact numbers are in dispute).

Speculations about North Korean fuel shortages are just that: furthermore, whatever day to day conservancy it may practice likely does not alter the existence of large emergency military reserves.

The thing about the North Korean army is that it is designed for attack and specifically for the destruction of the South; something they have been actively planning for decades, with constantly updated information from infiltrated spy teams. North Korea's leadership is one of the most paranoid in the world; the command-and-control structure is prepared to weather conventional bombing.

North Korea's fully Stalinist control of local media and indoctrination is far more efficient than China's. Its soldiers know only what their leaders want them to know and what they experience directly. North Korea does little except train and supply its army while using propaganda to work them into a constant state of fanatical preparedness.

A surprise, full-scale invasion of South Korea could overrun South Korean strategic targets in a short period of blitzkrieg warfare before the United States could bring the full might of its ground troops to bear. Korean defenses (e.g., airbases) destroyed before they can be fully deployed would further reduce South Korea's defensive capability. While it's hard to mount a surprise attack in these days of spy satellites, if North Korea is able to declare war, put its troops on high alert, and redeploy its forces, while eliciting little more than a "Pshaw! We've seen this saber-rattling a dozen times before!" reaction, then North Korea already has a psychological advantage.

The distances involved are very short. From the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, to either Inchon or Seoul, it is less than 120 miles. Modern battle tanks and planes can cross such distances very quickly, given combat readiness, a good plan, and a highly aggressive battle posture. Conventional missiles and artillery can fire across such distances even faster. Nor would North Korea need to rely on vulnerable lines of resupply from the North: it could resupply its forward troops with captured South Korean strategic targets (e.g., fuel depots).

A U.S. counterstrike would be limited by the presence of South Korean troops, civilians and infrastructure in the areas captured or under attack. Attacks directly on the North might be limited by North Korean threats to retaliate using nuclear weapons on American allies in the region (e.g., Japan), which are well within the range of its ballistic missiles (no need to smuggle A-bombs into Japanese ports).

While it is true that North Korea would lose if nuclear exchanges occurred, who is more likely to blink first in an insane game of brinkmanship simply threatening this: North Korea's enraged fanatical government, or the United States under pressure from Japan to avoid provoking the North?

North Korea also knows that it can always retreat behind existing borders and call it quits. The nuclear threat insures that there is no invasion of the North to overthrow the regime. A dictator who is about to lose all power and be killed or tried for war crimes and executed, has little to lose by "pushing the button" if seriously threatened.

In its fantasies, the North could alter existing borders, keeping a few strategic assets. In any case, a blitzkrieg invasion and withdrawal could demonstrate its might, damage South Korean morale while increasing its own, and place even more pressure on world powers as well as the South to negotiate and provide additional concessions.

"The Seoul-based Korea Economic Research Institute said in a report that in 2011 North Korea operated a 1.02-million-strong army and a record number of tanks, warships and air defense artillery. Total military personnel strength is 1.2 million. "The depressing reality is it would not be entirely wrong to say North Korea's military strength is stronger," the institute said. "We need to remember that the North is far superior in terms of the number of troops, and especially the North's military is structured in its formation and deployment with the purpose of an offensive war." "

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Latest-News-Wires/2012/0104/North-Korea-military-has-an-edge-over-South-but-wouldn-t-win-a-war-study-finds

Emil writes:

... if North Korea is able to declare war, put its troops on high alert, and redeploy its forces, while eliciting little more than a "Pshaw! We've seen this saber-rattling a dozen times before!"

Those days look to be gone.

I think the link Mr. Talton provided on the amassing of the B-1 bombers, shows that the dossier on the Korean Sun King (the psychological profile on Obama's desk) probably indicates he is a monomaniacal danger. And you'd have to be a blithe idiot of a president, not to ready the war weaponry and prepare some plans.

Lastly, for all our liberal bitching about the bloated military budget (and I bitch as much as anyone) it sure is nice to have superior war weaponry to ready. We can crush this bastard, woe to the world if we couldn't...

P.S. What if North Korea were, without warning, to flatten every one of South Korea's major airbases with conventional missiles (North Korea has lots of those), along with a number of other strategic defensive targets?
The chance to shoot these down or scramble most of their pilots is exactly zero.
There would be no pre-invasion artillery bombardment to soften up defensive targets. That just telegraphs intent and is largely ineffective against hardened targets.
Huge tank columns protected by North Korea's (for now) largely unchallenged air-force, including some Mig-29s and other elite craft, along with paratroops, would take control of the road net and other important defensive assets at strategic points. Mechanized infantry would follow right behind.

Note that the above was only my own speculation based on basic military principles. I've just found this. Spooky:

http://www.nknews.org/2013/03/north-korean-releases-video-of-paratrooper-attack-on-south-korea/

I awoke this AM and based on the above i say GO for a huge preemptive surgical strike.Melt teflon Kim

If North Korea launches an attack, we should first flatten Iran. You gotta know that they are trying to sucker us into a two front war.

That would give us a one front war. Much easier to deal with. Plus, Iran would be an object lesson to North Korea of that which awaits them.

The whole deal is a set up by the neo cons and the military indudtrial complex. to war to war.

Incidentally, the timetable described in the website with the North Korean video is way too slow. Waiting a day after taking out South Korean airbases before sending in tanks and (right behind them) mechanized infantry (both covered by North Korean air-support) would only give South Korea and the United States critical time to ready both defense and counterstrike.

A better plan would be a missile strike on South Korean airbases and simultaneously a tank invasion with air support, with mechanized infantry following behind or paratrooped in ahead as required.

Obviously the video is propaganda, so maybe they are deliberately misleading about details.

Another mistake in the plan described by the video (assuming there is any truth to it -- and I'm beginning to wonder if it isn't a hoax since a lot of its meaning depends on an easily altered voice-over and translation) is suggesting preemptive attacks on American bases. The North Korean government would be handing the U.S. government ample justification to respond by any means necessary.

The information on OPLAN is interesting. However, it would be very hard to justify an invasion of the North if North Korea limited its initial attacks to South Korean forces and threatened to use nuclear weapons on regional U.S. allies (such as Japan) if the U.S. responded by attempting to invade and overthrow the Pyongyang regime.

Emil, your plan effectively dismisses the VAST air and sea superiority of S. Korea, the U.S., and Japan if they were threatened. If North Korean tanks were to amass near the DMZ or begin moving toward a forward operating position, S. Korean and U.S. Forces would be ready to go within hours. Stealth bombers would be readied, many already are, the Pacific Fleet would move into position, and drones equipped with tank busting armament would be at the ready. If N. Korea sent in a large ground force, it would end in a macabre scene. The Pacific Fleet and the Air Force would unleash an arsenal that would obliterate most of the threat. For that reason, despite Kim Jung Un's brazen tongue, there won't be a real war.

P.S. Your description of the MiG-29 as a superior aircraft was tongue-in-cheek?

"However, it would be very hard to justify an invasion of the North if North Korea limited its initial attacks to South Korean forces and threatened to use nuclear weapons on regional U.S. allies..." -Emil

Would that not depend on the severity of the attack? Especially since U.S. Forces are embedded with South Korean forces. There is also the likelihood we would destroy N. Korea's missile silos since we do have intelligence and satellite confirmation of their locations. Remember, North Korea is a nation without much of a power grid and their infrastructure is...stone age. That includes their communication network. It is hard to telegraph effective commands against modern military forces.

Regarding the ability of North Korea to attack U.S. regional allies with one or more nuclear missiles, nobody really knows but expert opinion is divided. Here's the "yes" side:

"...And experts say it's easier to design a nuclear warhead that works on a shorter-range missile than one for an intercontinental missile that could target the US.

"The assessment of David Albright at the Institute for Science and International Security think tank is that North Korea has the capability to mount a warhead on its Rodong missile, which has a range of 1280 kilometers and could hit South Korea and most of Japan. But he cautioned in his analysis, published after the latest nuclear test, that it is an uncertain estimate, and the warhead's reliability remains unclear.

"Albright contends that the experience of Pakistan could serve as precedent. Pakistan bought the Rodong from North Korea after its first flight test in 1993, then adapted and produced it for its own use. Pakistan, which conducted its first nuclear test in 1998, is said to have taken less than 10 years to miniaturize a warhead before that test, Albright said.

"North Korea also obtained technology from the trafficking network of A.Q. Khan, a disgraced pioneer of Pakistan's nuclear program, acquiring centrifuges for enriching uranium. According to the Congressional Research Service, Khan may also have supplied a Chinese-origin nuclear weapon design he provided to Libya and Iran, which could have helped the North in developing a warhead for a ballistic missile."

AND:

"'Thanks to A.Q. Khan, they almost certainly have designs for such a device that could fit on some of their short or medium-range missiles," said (Siegfreid) Hecker (at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation) , who last visited the North in November 2010. 'But it is a long way from having a design and having confidence that you can put a warhead on a missile and have it survive the thermal and mechanical stresses during launch and along its entire trajectory.'"


http://www.news.com.au/world-news/growing-fears-that-north-korea-actually-has-the-technology-to-launch-nuclear-missiles/story-fndir2ev-1226614149427

Note that North Korea might have just been waiting until it could make a credible threat of nuclear reprisal before invading the South.

phsSUNSfan wrote:

"There is also the likelihood we would destroy N. Korea's missile silos since we do have intelligence and satellite confirmation of their locations."

Not necessarily:

"The embassy warning on Saturday coincided with reports North Korea had loaded two intermediate-range missiles on mobile launchers and hidden them in underground facilities near its east coast.

"'The North is apparently intent on firing the missiles without prior warning,' South Korean news agency Yonhap quoted a senior South Korean government official as saying."

http://www.news.com.au/world-news/growing-fears-that-north-korea-actually-has-the-technology-to-launch-nuclear-missiles/story-fndir2ev-1226614149427

pSp: "It is hard to telegraph effective commands against modern military forces."

Simple hand-held walkie-talkie style radios allow ample field communications. Electromagnetic burst weapons wouldn't interfere, or if so only fleetingly. Jamming technology has to be applied in a timely fashion using equipment that is effective against enemy communications without disrupting nearby allied (including South Korean) communications. It also has to be applied within sufficient range. Old-fashioned analogue field radios that communicate directly with each other rather than through a computerized central communications HQ are much more resistant to interference.


You would also need to account for the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System that is already being deployed to the region. Aegis is capable of:

1. Allows warships to shoot down enemy ballistic missiles while they are still in space.
2. Interceptors are fired to hit missiles before they re-enter the atmosphere.
3. The US, South Korea and Japan all have Aegis capability.

If push comes to shove, and North Korea fires a nuclear weapon on a U.S. ally...it would be lights out for good for North Korea. Are they seriously that deranged? I'm not so sure they are.

And are you seriously proposing that North Korea would command its ground, air, and limited sea forces with walkie-talkies against the most sophisticated military in the world? And be effective?

Aegis is extremely effective at destroying short and medium range missiles as well.

I also think that most of the planning and orders will have been issued in advance by Pyongyang. Field commanders will have their objectives and will primarily need to coordinate with other units in the field in order to carry them out.

While in theory field commanders could carry out limited objectives without proper communication, in modern warfare that would spell disaster. This is especially true if reinforcements were necessary. Reforming battle lines and adjusting for enemy capability and maneuverability would be impossible: perhaps advance North Korean planning calls for buglers and trumpeters to sound commands, but I don't think that would work over more than a few miles.

Aegis has its work cut out for it. The air-distance from Pyongyang to Tokyo is about 900 miles. Obviously, a ballistic missile path is different, but given the speeds involved the intercept time is VERY short indeed. The effectiveness of ballistic missile defense systems, particularly under such circumstances, is questionable.

The point is not that Pyongyang would fire a missile at Japan. The point is that the threat of doing so if the United States crossed specified lines (e.g., expanding a defense of South Korea to an invasion of the North with the intent to overthrow the regime) might well restrict U.S. freedom of action in practice.

your move

Let us consider the scenario. Pyongyang's advanced planning detailed their forces march into the South. Nonetheless, upon nearing the DMZ (or what was the DMZ) heavy losses are sustained by divisions or multiple regiments/battalions of mechanized and armored infantry. Field commanders, using walkie-talkies, call in reinforcements; even if the North Koreans developed a sophisticated code that isn't easily broken by U.S. or S. Korean intelligence, real-time satellite images will show troop movements and the Navy/Air Force would launch aircraft to destroy those targets. How long before North Koreans are psychologically affected by the scenes of fallen comrades and destroyed equipment? I believe even North Korea is at least somewhat interested in self-preservation. War would be suicide.

Modern warfare was carried out during WW II even under conditions where radio communications were not available in the field. Read about German and Allied experiences in the Battle of the Bulge in Dark December.

The idea that hand-held or other field radios are insufficient to communicate enemy troop strengths or call for reinforcements is simply mistaken.

1 BMD-equipped warship is capable of tracking and destroying over 100 simultaneous threats. While I did not work directly within missile defense commands, I believe the largest contingent of such warships are located within the Pacific Fleet. I also question the need of a large U.S. ground force to counter a North Korean advance into the South. If the shit hits the fan, the U.S. could send tens-of-thousands of troops to the South within 24-48 hours. Would that be necessary with South Korean's standing Army and the US' long-range strike capability?

Continuing a strategic action such as an invasion even after heavy losses were sustained at the invasion border would probably be a bad idea even with secure radios.

The argument presented by pSp (e.g., real-time satellite imagery of troop movements) shows that his real argument isn't radio communication systems, but the presumption that the North will get bogged down early on and be sitting ducks for the U.S. air-force. Consider what would happen if they did not get bogged down and conducted a successful blitzkrieg action before the U.S. could organize an effective counterstrike.

So you are saying that during WWII, satellite guided systems, drones, warships capable of launching missiles thousands of miles to a target, and intelligence gathering were equivalent to modern, I mean, current warfare capabilities? I think you underestimate the advantage; perhaps North Korea has as well.

Tens of thousands of troops against a standing army of a million might be ineffective. Comparisons of South and North Korean military forces have already been made. The South Korean air-force is the real first-line defense, but if it is taken out by surprise missile attacks, Pyongyang's air-force will effectively support its overwhelming tank and infantry forces early on.

Ck mate

"Tens of thousands of troops against a standing army of a million might be ineffective." -Emil

Not if their purpose is to reinforce and support the current South Korean army. And that would be tens-of-thousands per day. In essence, you could have 300,000 troops in South Korea within 4-5 days. Not to mention the Marine forces that would be mobilized on Navy ships.

There really isn't the true capability of a "surprise missile attack". The U.S. and S. Korea have a high efficiency rate of "kinetic kill" regarding fast moving regional missiles. There would be a short window of opportunity to scramble and deploy counterstrike capabilities, but as soon as missiles were launched, they could be detected. I am pretty sure Japan, Korea, and the U.S. are operating under high-alert at this point so all such tracking systems are focused on N.Korea.

"Consider what would happen if they did not get bogged down and conducted a successful blitzkrieg action before the U.S. could organize an effective counterstrike." -Emil

Highly improbably, if not impossible given the attention levied on the North at this time.

There are multiple layers of missile defense currently in place, and even more that has recently been moved closer to North Korea. From the Navy's X-band to the Air Force's Infrared space detection system used for ground detection of missile launches. There is also the aforementioned Aegis and the ground-based systems that can track and destroy shorter range rockets (similar to those used to defend Israel against rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip).

My biggest concern wouldn't be missiles or a North Korean ground force invasion, but the initial shelling of Seoul and U.S. Military bases. Since I have friends and family stationed there, I know that they would likely face a grim scenario. But if that were to happen, it would be all-out war with the North in which a full-scale assault would take place.

I mentioned the rapid deployment of forced early, and wrote that 300,000 troops could be amassed in South Korean. However, I misinterpreted the data. We would likely have 100,000 in place within a week if that scale of an operation were necessary.

The 100,000 doesn't include an "initial invasion force" that would aid the South Korean forces...just to be clear.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/08/world/asia/us-and-south-korea-devise-plan-to-counter-north.html?smid=pl-share

From the most recent front page story on NK...
This was a long time coming:

“North Korea has gotten away with murder — literally — for decades, and the South Korean and American forces have rarely responded with decisive military action,” said David S. Maxwell, a retired Army colonel who served five tours in South Korea.

“It’s very important to break the cycle of provocation,” said Mr. Maxwell, now the associate director of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University. “These responses have to be proportional. They have to be delivered decisively, at the time and at the point of provocation.”

I am surprised it took the West so long to get there. For sure, the world shouldn't let this new young little fucker get away with any hostilities. It's tit for tat now--FINALLY. Although I favor two eyes for one eye. If you don't punch this little bastard, he'll be rabbit punching you for the next 40 years. Enough. Fight back.

Wasn't the ship-defense version of AEGIS involved in the shooting down of a commercial passenger jet by the U.S. Navy? That sounds like a reliable system. Note also that it doesn't operate automatically: the highly trained U.S. Navy weapons specialist who shot down that unarmed commercial airliner had to give authorization to fire.

There is also a difference between tests conducted under ideal conditions, and field conditions. Ballistic missile defense works best when the incoming missile re-enters the atmosphere: otherwise it's like trying to hit a bullet with a bullet. That's a very narrow window of opportunity along an already very short flight path (say from Pyongyang to Tokyo). There is also the potential complication of decoy systems, though I doubt very much whether North Korean ballistic missiles are equipped with these.

If AEGIS has solved the problems of ballistic missile attack so splendidly, why is everyone so hot and bothered over the prospect of North Korea developing long-range ballistic missiles that could strike the U.S. with nuclear warheads?

Also, the "surprise" attack I spoke of was using conventional ground-to-ground missiles against South Korean airfields prior to or simultaneous with a ground and air invasion of the South, not ballistic nuclear missiles. If South Korea or the United States (or other advanced countries in general) had the ability to stop such missiles fired without warning, then nobody would buy them because missiles would be obsolete technology.

Again, it's less than 120 miles between the South Korean capitals, and considerably less than that between the North's border with the DMZ and critical targets within South Korea. The idea that South Korea could react in time to stop thousands of missiles, rockets, and artillery shells from decimating its airfields, even using automated defense systems, is mistaken.

Don't forget also that the British have advanced anti-missile systems. That didn't protect the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Sheffield from an Exocet fired by the Argentines.

One wonders how the Soviet, German, American and British armies, operating in Europe and Africa, managed to report enemy positions, call for reinforcements, and forge battle lines along numerous fronts, without 21st century satellite communications equipment. No GPS either, just some funny paper things they called "maps". Too bad some modern wasn't there to tell them it couldn't be done and that they might as well be using trumpeters and foot-messengers; they could have called the whole show off and saved everyone a lot of trouble.

Again, "precision" munitions aren't really all that precise. Once North Korea manages to get its forces into areas where South Korean infrastructure, civilians, and troops exist, dropping 2000-pound bombs (even laser guided ones) is highly problematic, much less carpet bombing.

As for intelligence gathering, you don't need satellites to figure out where North Korean troops are going to strike. South Korea is a small country and strategic targets are limited.


I'll pause from writing the next Rogue column to toss in some additional live fire to the conversation:

In WWII, the contending forces made extensive use of recon aircraft to gain intelligence on the enemy. In the later Cold War, Soviet generals and some in the Kremlin became very afraid of a NATO doctrine of Follow On Forces, which would have involved air attacks deep into the Warsaw Pact lines, including supply depots. Ironically, much of this was taken from Marshall Tukhachevski's "Deep Battle" vision in the late 1930s (Uncle Joe liquidated him).

The result now is the American doctrine of AirLand Battle and SeaLand Battle. It would go badly for any conventional force facing American or allied forces. That's why asymmetric warfare is the way to go, unless you're nuts or need to impress old generals who want to use their toys.

If the North Korean planners had any sense, they would figure out how many troops, tanks, and air-support should be needed to take and hold critical targets including road-nets, etc., and then deploy two or three times as much for each, assuming worst case scenarios. Then they wouldn't be as vulnerable to nasty surprises like unnoticed shifts in South Korean troop dispositions, equipment failures, and so forth.

It's amazing how many of the world's armies, even experienced, professional armies like the Germans in WW II, took critical risks based on rosy assumptions and only attempted after the fact (too late) to bring in the necessary reinforcements, instead of assuming the worst and deploying the forces necessary to achieve their goals from the start.

Dennis Rodman is on Chapos payroll?

Fair enough, Mr. Talton. However, an invasion force fighting a blitzkrieg action can carry with it much of the supplies it initially needs and then resupply to some extent from captured assets in the South, instead of using supply lines based in the North. After that it could indeed get dicey.

Also, I was assuming that threats from the North to use nuclear weapons (deployed by any means whatever, to any targets whatever), if the United States should attack the North directly, might actually cause the U.S. to limit its military actions to fighting in the South.

Regarding WW II, the Germans timed the Battle of the Bulge breakout to give them nearly two weeks while Allied air surveillance and attack craft were grounded because of weather. That is one reason why it was a surprise and why the magnitude was initially underestimated.

I'm not suggesting anything similar here: I just think that the North could act quickly enough that the initial U.S. response would be inadequate, while the later response would be complicated by factors such as occupation of South Korean towns and facilities; by threats of nuclear retaliation; and possibly by holding 28,000 existing U.S. troops in Seoul hostage (in effect, at least).

koreyel wrote:

"Lastly, for all our liberal bitching about the bloated military budget (and I bitch as much as anyone) it sure is nice to have superior war weaponry to ready. We can crush this bastard, woe to the world if we couldn't..."

The United States could defend itself effectively with a military budget half its current size. "Woe to the world" seems like hyperbole: the North's perennial plans for "reunification" are scarcely an attempt at world domination or even at regional hegemony.

Also, does the United States really need to be the world's policeman? How many times do we need to say "Another fine mess you've gotten me into..." before we return to a doctrine of using American military force to protect American soil and direct interests?

America has trouble policing itself
being a world cop smacks of arrogant imperialism

NK today is in the position of any hostage-taker; its bargaining position lasts only as long as the hostage lives.

For the North to pre-emptively destroy Seoul is for it to publicly kill the hostage -- there nothing would then prevent the US from running Shock and Awe over PyongYang until the rubble bounces. If they were to deploy a nuke in the process, so much the worse for them.

If NK has any rational leadership, it must know that an actual attack on Seoul is suicide.

I do not know if NK has any rational leadership.

Hot-button words like "imperialism" are overused. But when self-designated liberals drool over the military I have to sigh.

Incidentally, pSf, I didn't say that the Mig-29 was "superior" (superior to what?); rather, I said "elite". It's a fourth generation modern fighter, particularly in its updated versions. That said, for the most part the North Korean airforce, despite its size, isn't terribly impressive compared to the South, which is why a pre-emptive strike on South Korean airbases would be a prerequisite to any invasion.

Folks: are we getting our knickers in a knot prematurely? Or is all this conjecture just a form of mental calisthenics?

"Masturbation" is more like it - but then I'm congenitally repulsed by earnest armchair war tacticalizin'. So keep my judgment in perspective, of course.

As you were.

Petro I thought U were never going to comment on this Napoleonic grand master Championship!

Wasn't the ship-defense version of AEGIS involved in the shooting down of a commercial passenger jet by the U.S. Navy?" -Emil

In 1988 when the system was new...have you heard of such an incident again? Despite heavier air traffic and even more training by BMD-equipped warships.

"If AEGIS has solved the problems of ballistic missile attack so splendidly, why is everyone so hot and bothered over the prospect of North Korea developing long-range ballistic missiles that could strike the U.S. with nuclear warheads?" -Emil

It is sensational...and when does the media pass up a sensationalist/and alarmist story?

"One wonders how the Soviet, German, American and British armies, operating in Europe and Africa, managed to report enemny (sic) positions, call for reinforcements, and forge battle lines along numerous fronts, without 21st century satellite communications equipment. No GPS either, just some funny paper things they called "maps"." -Emil

It worked when armies were on relatively equal footing and each side moved relatively slowly. It wouldn't work today with a superior force capable of striking from longer distances and that is extremely mobile. Rapid deployment and air/sea superiority put an end to chess pieces on a map.

"'Masturbation' is more like it - but then I'm congenitally repulsed by earnest armchair war tacticalizin'. So keep my judgment in perspective, of course."- Petro

Petro, don't be mean! ;-)

It gives us, or at least me, something to do on my days off...

Also, does the United States really need to be the world's policeman?

Yes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pax_Americana

I will be mean whenever I deem it appropriate! (There is a visual to go with this pronouncement, let me set it up for you. First I straighten my spine in a most righteous posture, and then while delivering the words I slowly raise my fisted right hand, index finger thrust forward, until when I reach the second syllable of "appropriate," I decisively stab the finger upward in a swift sharp movement. In some of the rehearsals, I experimented with a slight "swoop" of the index finger at the climax, but have concluded that to be overly dramatic.)

Overly dramatic...but funny, nonetheless.

Well, of course it's mental calisthenics...for me, at least, anyway.

I don't see how Petro could be "congenitally" repulsed by earnest armchair war theorizing, since the term means "from birth" and, more specifically, deriving from factors predating birth (e.g., genetics); and in any case two questions remain: (1) What is his reaction ("congenital" or otherwise" to non-earnest armchair war theorizing; and (2) How does he tell the difference between earnest and non-earnest armchair war theorizing?

Methinks that phoenixSUNSfan is confused. If one side is a superior force capable of striking from longer distances and is extremely mobile, then they are going to have an advantage, for these reasons, regardless of whether the other side has equally up to date field and/or HQ/field communication methods.

The real question is whether WW II (well, really quite newer, since even North Korea isn't stuck in that era) methods of intelligence and communications / command & control are sufficient for North Korea to conduct basic warfare operations, such as observation, reporting, coordination of forces, and calling for reinforcements. Obviously, they are.

Actually, pSf, Aegis has been around since 1969, when it was renamed from the Advanced Surface Missile System (ASMS). The first Engineering Development Model was installed in the U.S.S. Norton Sound in 1973. And the formal military investigation into the 1988 downing of Iran Air Flight 655 by the U.S.S. Vincennes determined that the Aegis system was completely operational and did not have any maintenance problems and that the Aegis system did not contribute to the incident.

So you can't blame it on the system being "new" (or, by implication, improperly functional), can you? Simultaneously, you can't argue that Aegis is independent, automatic, or competent, since it allowed a commercial passenger jet to be shot down. Regardless of "human error", the system was sufficiently imperfect as to allow this. And it is a BIG error.

How many ballistic missiles fired by enemy countries has Aegis been called upon to destroy? I'm not talking about tests, but actual field conditions? How often does that happen, eh? Has the system EVER been called upon under conditions such as I proposed in my hypothetical above?

Methinks that phoenixSUNSfan is confused." -Emil

Probably, it happens often.

Emil, giving you specific numbers is not something I could do since I don't have access to information regarding every war exercise the Navy and Air Force has ever conducted. However, I do know the success rate is rather high; from 98% to 100%.
100% success rate on endo-atmospheric intercepts using the SM-2 Block IV missile.

Of more interest to us: North Korea does not have capability to strike U.S. soil with ICBMs at this time. If they did their number of missiles would be relatively small...which Aegis would be able to handle. The trouble with Aegis and other BMDs would be the unknown in the event of a missile(s) evading the system when a real nuclear capable country, like China or Russia, launches a large number of ICBMs and long-range missiles almost simultaneously.

I was again confused in that last paragraph; Aegis would not be capable of intercepting ICBMs, that would be the job of the US GMD system. THAAD systems may be capable of intercept ICBMs.

LOL Emil!

I've never been able to ken whether I've reincarnated Hitler or Gandhi, actually - depends on whether I cooled my heels in the netherworld for 9, or for 12, years - but either makes the case for my pre-natal disinclination for war, for different reasons of course (and please don't deconstruct my flip use of the term "pre-natal," for god's sake)...

As for the rest of it... my reaction to "non-earnest" talk of this sort is the same, actually: Laughter. "Non-earnest" is manifest in fine satire of the sort found on "The Daily Show," or in "The Onion" or in the glory years of "The National Lampoon." I can tell the difference because in the one instance no one wants to punch me when I chuckle.

Actually, pSf, there is an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system. There is also an Aegis ship-defense combat system.

Some very interesting speculations in Foreign Policy ("Rolling the Iron Dice") on possible North Korean strategy, that might address some of pSf's objections. I can't get the link to post here, but it can currently be found among the Front Page links.

Update: Here's the link —


http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/04/08/rolling_the_iron_dice

"Actually, pSf, there is an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system. There is also an Aegis ship-defense combat system."- Emil

Yes, but the Aegis Combat System (ACS) isn't for missile defense; which has been the topic of our discussion for the latter part of this thread. ACS tracks and guides missiles to enemy targets. I read it ("Rolling the Iron Dice")...still some of the same objections. Though it did raise some interesting points; including the accuracy of the North Korean radar and guidance system.

The two systems are related. Tracking and response technology is common to both. Furthermore, the Aegis Combat System IS in fact also employed as a defense against anti-ship missiles. As for the anti-ballistic system, here's an example:

"The RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) is a ship-based missile system used by the US Navy to intercept short- to intermediate-range ballistic missiles as a part of Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System. Although primarily designed as an anti-ballistic missile missile, the SM-3 has also been employed in an anti-satellite capacity against a satellite at the lower end of low Earth orbit.[4] The SM-3 is primarily used and tested by the United States Navy and also operated by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RIM-161

Emil, maybe you are confusing yourself. They share common technology but their functions are seperate. Unless many of my friends currently in the Navy are incorrect, BMD-equipped warships are not the same as ACS systems. Think of one as offense, and the other as defense...a few work in tandem but they aren't the same.

Here's what Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the Aegis system, says:

"The Aegis Combat System is the world’s most capable naval defense system and the sea-based element of the United States’ Ballistic Missile Defense System. Aegis can simultaneously attack land targets, submarines and surface ships, while automatically implementing defenses to protect the fleet against aircraft and missiles."

http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/products/aegis/system-elements.html

Note the phrase "naval defense system" and the reference to protecting the fleet against missiles.

Aegis is simultaneously a combat system and a defensive system protecting naval vessels from anti-ship missiles. Additionally, the Aegis anti-ballistic missile defense is a different function, but it involves the same system.

P.S. "Anti-ship missiles" includes both non-ballistic and ballistic missiles.

This has been quite an interesting dialogue. Kind of like a Jane's Defense magazine coming to life.

A couple of things I'd like to point out.

1. Top military technology against the Viet Cong. How did that turn out?

2. Top military technology against religious kooks with an AK and a towel for a hat. Oops. O for 2, 0 for 3.

3. Who builds the "Top military technology". Why of course, the lowest bidder. Now featuring graft and corruption at new levels.

So, as we play the Blog version of "RISK" on this board, you have to ask yourselves, even if all our crap works, you know the politicians will not allow success. There's no money in success. There's only money in stalemate.

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