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08 March 2013


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The North Koreans may not have deliverable nukes but they do have Bio Weapons along with the standard chemical fare. The former ought to be rightfully considered as they are lunatic enough to actually unleash such a horror. Once out, they ain't coming back either.

Neil Richardson

Dear Col. Lang:

Si vis pacem, para bellum. This is something that younger generations in South Korea should remember.

As for the latest round of blustering from the DPRK, I'm more concerned about the ROK's response. I suspect the days of turning the other cheek are over given Yeunpyeungdo and Park's accession to power.


US policy on Korea:
"This time, we really, really, really, really, REALLY mean it."


As they say, if it were my call, I would let someone--who had some capability to deliver on a threat--threaten us for so long before I decided to act first..

Here is what I would be tempted to say...saw this on another blog yesterday:


Let them listen to this.


Also consider the extremely large number of DPRK conventional artillery that has Seoul and other areas of northern ROK in target range. A massive artillery barrage would do incalculable damage and pave the way for an assault on Seoul.



I suppose they still have the Koksan gun? That was built to range Seoul from the DMZ. pl

Neil Richardson

What is the number of tubes that can reach the Seoul proper in your estimate? AFAIK the numbers range from 250 to 400 all of which are presumed to be in HARTS. If they come out to fire, well there are many ways of dealing with them. As for artillery barrage "paving the way", that's unlikely. Unless the KPA achieves a complete strategic and tactical surprise (an impossible task IMO), I'd be surprised if they get below the Paju-Yangju-Gapyeung-Chuncheon line.

William R. Cumming

Am I the only one that thinks both South and North have the capability of MAD of the other and neither are cabable of being defended without almost total destruction?

And which side has done more underground burrowing since June 1950?

Dr. Edward Teller, father of the H-bomb, was the FEMA Advisory Board and created under President Carter's Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1978. In various advisory board meetings he advocated underground cities for the USA and given his knowledge of the geometric increase in the power of the hydrogen bomb over the atom bomb who is to say in the long run probably will happen.

Neil Richardson

Dear Col. Lang:

The problem as you know is that no matter which course we pursue the reality on the ground will remain for the foreseeable future. The DPRK has the capability to launch a general invasion which would cause perhaps a million casualties on both sides not to mention untold civilian casualties and devastation (What used to be known in 2ID as "tactical country" north of Seoul is now heavily developed and populated).

Although there are so many issues to consider in this Gordian knot of the Korean peninsula, I'll only briefly address the three options that have been discussed in MSM.

First, tigten sanctions while continuing the policy of strategic disengagement. Although the general assumption is that they're useless, I think there have been indications that pressure points do seem to exist as the Banco Delta Asia farce demonstrated. And the US, China and Japan can tighten it to an extraordinary level if we choose to do so.

Second, consider a preemptive strike as the WH had considered in 1993-94. Well we know what happened once the planning estimates came in with the cost at 300,000 to 500,000 military casualties in the first 90 days.

Third, withdraw the USFK and allow the ROK and Japan to plot its own course in developing their own nuclear deterrent. We know what the downsides are but strictly writing in terms of realist point of view, it's a lot easier to contemplate a preemptive strike when we don't have 28000 plus military personnel and a large number of dependents to hold hostage in a potential conflict. The DPRK would learn of that lessonvery quickly.

No matter which course we choose the risk of miscalculation leading to a general war will be present in any policy consideration. Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il were deterrable. Is Kim Jong-Un deterrable? That is yet to be determined, but the United States should convey through the usual channels that if the DPRK were to initiate war, not only would it face a complete annihilation, but that the Kim family (every member of adult age) would be apprehended and investigated for war crimes and human rights abuses. And China and Russia could reinforce the message

Neil Richardson


"Am I the only one that thinks both South and North have the capability of MAD of the other and neither are cabable of being defended without almost total destruction?"

No, I also share your view. As I mentioned earlier Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-Il were deterrable. My concern right now is that Kim Jong-un presents a cipher at the moment. Both his father and grandfather knew what devastation meant and backed off repeatedly when it appeared that the United States would finally lose its patience. AFAIK Jong-un is a spoiled brat who has never known hardship which presents a serious analytic problem.

John Minnerath

The DPRK and the ROK, 2 dangerously reactionary governments playing chicken with the rest of the world.
Holocausts have been ignited by less.
The PRC and the US need to exert more effort to stabilize the peninsula.



Sorry, this is link I meant to put in my comment. Play this to the NK's. Let them understand the spirit of this in response to their threats.

Neil Richardson

I prefer to send them this.


They know what it means to have columns stacked up at night due to obstacles and artillery submunitions. In addition to the obvious point of our air interdiction, the nKs certainly know that ROKA and 2ID would gladly service them every inch along Hwys 1 and 3. This clip only shows the air strikes, but potential fights south of the Z would involve the greatest concentration of artillery since the Gulf War in an area roughly about 40km by 20km.


So a couple of questions:
1. Why now? Wouldn't NK think itself stronger at least with more nukes a few years from now for example? Why is Kim Jung-Un throwing the dice when he seemingly doesn't have to? Does he think we will walk off the peninsula given our budgetary problems etc. and now is the time to push us over?
2. China must know that SK and Japan would have to re-assess their own non-nuclear policies given the unfolding events and neither prospect would be welcomed by China.
3. How do you war game model bat shit crazies? Wouldn't we be seeing other indicators of activity like automotive battery purchases or food stockpiling?
4. We keep hearing that NK has no nuke delivery capabilities, but that isn't really true, there are plenty of unorthodox methods of delivery if one sets their mind to it - fishing boats, sea containers, freighters, civil aviation, suicide subs just to name a few possibilities within NK current capabilities.


NR et al

I don't know much about the PDRK but I will hazard a comment anyway. At this point they remind me of Libya and Qathafi before we bombed them in 1986. I was deeply involved in that experiment in messaging. Before - he was full of BS and false self induced confidence that we were paper tigers, etc. After - He was much chastened and started to whine through third parties as though he were a beaten dog asking to be taken in out of the storm. pl

Neil Richardson

"1. Why now? Wouldn't NK think itself stronger at least with more nukes a few years from now for example? Why is Kim Jung-Un throwing the dice when he seemingly doesn't have to? Does he think we will walk off the peninsula given our budgetary problems etc. and now is the time to push us over?"

IMO it has everything to do with leadership transition on both sides of the DMZ. Park Geun-hye being the first woman president has serious ramifications on how the DPRK leadership will probe for their next series of action. (IMO if the DPRK leadership thinks she's "soft" I think they're seriously mistaken. She is indeed Park Chung-hee's daughter.) Second and more important reason is the power consolidation by Kim Jong-Un. He cannot appear to be weak when there are doubts about his leadership. That is why the US and ROK have to be careful in how far and how fast we can push Pyongyang at this juncture. In the last three days, the ROK have been matching bluster for bluster. Rather than empty talks that I'm used to hearing, I'd hope the ROKA and MND have thought long and hard about what responses they're prepared to execute after what will be inevitable provocations in the near future. As we used to say, deliberate planning and violent execution are the keys to sending the right message while maintaining deterrence.




Bizarrely, the Dennis Rodman visit might explain the timing.

I say we send Mike Tyson next.



I was thinking along those lines, that sending a drone to fire a hellfire missile at one of the statues of Kim Jung-un might be enough to chasten him. As Neil Richardson says, Kim Jong-un is a spoiled brat and he needs a spanking.


Neil Richardson

Dear Col. Lang:

"At this point they remind me of Libya and Qathafi before we bombed them in 1986. I was deeply involved in that experiment in messaging. Before - he was full of BS and false self induced confidence that we were paper tigers, etc. After - He was much chastened and started to whine through third parties as though he were a beaten dog asking to be taken in out of the storm."

This is certainly possible although I have concerns about unpredictable responses during the power consolidation. I guess my formative experience was Paul Bunyan when the DPRK backed down. This tends to influence my assessment on North Korea. However, even if there were 2 percent chance that a general war could result (either a preemption by the DPRK or through a series of escalation and miscalculation), I think the downside risk would be too high for the US and ROK political leadership. It's important to note that during the 1993-94 crisis, Kim Young-Sam and the ROK leadership lost their nerve once the tensions started to rise quite rapidly. (They were the ones upping the rhetoric until the WH ordered planning of a preemptive strike on Yongbyon. They then claimed ignorance which was a blatant lie.) I don't think Park Geun-Hye is as weak-kneed as Kim Yong-Sam (who btw managed to stay out of military service during the Korean War which speaks volumes imo). At the risk of committing a post hoc fallacy, Kim Il-Sung asked Jimmy Carter to visit Pyongyang soon after the USFK began to plan for NEO which certainly was one of the strategic indicators the DPRK would track.

As for decapitation, I'd have to be fairly certain as far as psychological assessment of Kim Jong-Un is concerned. Simply I just don't know which way he'd jump as it's too soon to tell. There are a few indications such has the handling of Fujimoto Kenji that suggest Jong-Un is pretty sophisticated in the use of subtle threats unlike his father who'd have used a bludgeon instead of a scalpel. However, the fact remains that he's a 29 year old kid who has no idea what it means to go down the path of a rapidly deteriorating conflict spiral.


What 2ID are you referring to? They're gone.

2ID in South Korea consists of:
1st Armored Brigade Combat Team
2nd Combat Aviation Brigade
210th Fires Brigade
Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion

These forces are at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State:
2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team
3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team
4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team

This is per the division home page.

There is no "plan" for defending South Korea, et al, with any of the forces currently deployed there for very long. The speedbump was intended to slow any advance so that III Corps could be brought into the theater, ostensibly behind 5th Army? Not sure anymore.

What value is a North Korean artillery piece that hasn't fired in 40 years and has been hidden in a cave? What value are those shells, stockpiled for decades? Is it all a bluff?

Young Kim Jong Un was educated near Bern, Switzerland. He is a eurotrash puppet of the men who really run the country. If they want war, the ROK Army will likely give it to them. Our presence there is largely irrelevant and we are "in the way" because all we care about is protecting the multitude of civilian dependents who are now living there (the number of which would shock most people, by the way--whose idea was that?)

Sorry-your analysis is really out of date.

Allen Thomson

So, what message? Depriving the DPRK of its navy and air force comes to mind and should be doable, but would that hit the right note? If not, what? Not too little that they'd not get the message, not too much that it would drive them into a crazy attack on SK and maybe Japan.

The Beaver

Sorry to use your post to mention about the actual decision making in North Korea:
The brat has to share power with his aunt ( sister of his father ) and her husband.
Read that he has more power than him wrt the army. He is just the puppet in that triumvirate.If he does not "govern" as expected, he can be replaced either by one of his half-sibling or another puppet.


By the time we deploy 5th Army, Samsung will have a new NK CEO... all we are presently in country is one huge road spike strip....

Neil Richardson


There is no "plan" to defend South Korea? I didn't realize the CFC was inactivated. Or that we no longer updated OPLAN 5027. The proximate reason why the KCNA has been harping recently is due to Foal Eagle/Ulchi Focus which is basically a sand table exercise compared to Team Spirit. Once American blood has been spilled, I hardly think we'd do a Dunkirk (or Hungnam depending on one's POV).

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