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      WHAT DOES A PREEMPTIVE WAR WITH KOREA LOOK LIKE?

      How could the US carry out a crippling strike against the Hermit Kingdom?

      There are lots of ideas out there. Reading through articles in Stratfor, Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, Aljazeera, Reuters, Business Insider, Newsweek, Time, The Times, The Guardian I have gleaned the following overview of the essential strategic and tactical elements of such an attack.

      At the core of NK strategy is the belief that the U.S., SK and Japan are determined to overthrow its government and to seize control of the entire Korean peninsula. The nuclear program was developed largely to counter this threat. NK would not go quietly.



      STEP BY STEP

      1) Making the decision to act. Any action will be risky, very risky. At the least, military action against North Korea will result in a number of civilians in South Korea, and quite likely Japan, would perish or suffer significant injuries. US forces stationed in the Pacific would suffer significant casualties no matter how well the attacks went

      2) Reviewing the Options. .Essentially there are two choices. The first is a “fast and narrow” attack that focuses on only the most important NK nuclear assets that would include its research and production facilities and on its weapons delivery systems.
      The second is a “slower and wide” attack would focus more on crippling North Korea's nuclear program and destroying other key threats to the US and its allies.

      Most of the experts do not expect that the administration would opt for a full-scale attack since that would likely pull the US into a long term conflict in East Asia.


      Here is how that would look.

      - STAGING. The US would slowly but surely position submarines, Navy ships, and stealth aircraft at bases near North Korea in ways that avoid provoking the Hermit Kingdom's suspicions.

      - SNEAK ATTACK. Stealth air blitz and cruise missiles hit North Korea's nuclear facilities. Sorties of F-22’s, F-35’s and B-2’s would drop the heaviest ordnance available including bunker buster bombs. Cruise missiles would go after surface stationed facilities. The B-2, for example, could drop massive, 30,000 pound bombs on deep underground bunkers in North Korea — and they could do it from as far away as Guam or the continental United States.
      The initial targets would include nuclear reactors, missile production facilities, and launching pads for ICBMs.
      Nearly simultaneously, American assets would hunt for mobile missile launchers, which can hide all over North Korea's mountainous terrain. In the event that North Korea does respond with its own missiles, the US and South Korea have layered missile defenses that would attempt to shoot them out of the sky.

      - NORTH KOREAN RESPONSES. Assuming that the first strike has succeeded in degrading Kim Jung Un’s nuclear facilities and most of its command and control, the regime has options. They have their massive, massive conventional (although largely out of date bordering on obsolescence) artillery options that can start firing at South Korea in a split second. These assets include those with chemical and biological agent warheads.
      Although most North Korean artillery can't reach Seoul, South Korea's capital, the damage at the DMZ and beyond will be enormous with U.S. and S. Korean troops bearing the brunt of the attacks. Furthermore, artillery strikes would wipe out the DMZ’s barriers (walls, wires, bunkers, and mines) allowing North Korean forces to push through placing them in direct conflict with U.S. and S. Korean forces.

      And while Seoul has significant underground bunkers and infrastructure to quickly protect its citizens, significant damage to the city is unavoidable. And if biological and/or chemical agents are successfully deployed human casualties will be enormous.

      Of course, once the NK artillery starts to fire, it becomes and exposed to US jets overhead and short range missiles launched from SK. And it is possible that the U.S. may opt to neutralize as much of the artillery as possible in a first strike action bombing wave and a missile barrage that literally brings down the mountain peaks on top of the emplacements and/or uses cruise missiles to strike at specific targets.

      - UNDER THE SEA. North Korea has submarines, most of them antique, and a small number of them can launch short range nuclear ballistic missiles. The U.S. would deploy its submarine hunter/killer forces to counter this.
      Helicopters would drop specialized listening buoys, destroyers and subs would use their advanced sonars to target subs which would be hit by a combination of weapons including torpedos, missiles, rockets, and mortars.

      - THE LAND BATTLE Few expect North Korea to go quietly after suffering even a crippling attack.
      In addition to artillery strikes that would target U.S. and SK forces, and Seoul, through massive tunnels bored under the DMZ, North Korea would try to pour ground troops into the South.
      Though its air force is small and outdated, North Korean jets would need to be addressed and potentially eliminated.

      - SPECIAL FORCES. Behind the lines special forces move in.
      US special operations forces would parachute in and spot mobile launchers for followup air attacks. They would, if necessary, move to destroy or deactivate mobile launchers (some of which are equipped with tank treads giving them access to very difficult terrain)and other offensive equipment. Overall, US special forces would establish themselves at key logistical junctures and observe North Koreans' movements, and then relay that to US air assets.

      -AFTER SHOCK: OTHER NORTH KOREAN RESPONSES. North Korea would likely launch cyber attacks, possibly shutting down parts of the US or allies' power grids, and there is a good chance that “terrorist” attacks would also follow against U.S. targets. And even after a devastating missile attack, some of North Korea's nuclear stockpile would likely remain hidden and a nuclear retaliation/retribution against Seoul or Tokyo or Guam or….could follow and with little left to destroy in NK what would the U.S. do? Invade, inviting war with China?



      TWO OTHER VERY IMPORTANT QUESTIONS REGARING THE “DEAR LEADER” AND HIS ALLY, CHINA.

      What happens if Kim Jong Un is killed? Whether by assassination or as a result of a strike by U.S. forces the death of Kim would be a great loss to the autocratic Hermit Kingdom. There is little chance that he will be assassinated. Kim Jong-un has reportedly engaged in a vicious campaign to eliminate rivals and those who might be agents for another power, especially China. As a result he has consolidated power within his country to a degree that makes him necessary to the country's functioning. All decision making flows out from him. Without a leader, North Korean forces would face a severe blow to their morale as well as their command structure, but it wouldn't end the fight. As to the possibility of “taking him out” with a military strike…..At the first indication of an attack, Kim would likely be in a highly fortified, and very deeply buried command bunker in a geographically fearsome region.

      What will China do? As of this morning we know what they say they will do. According to state media Chinese officials have made it clear that if North Korea were to attack first it would remain neutral. If the U.S. and its allies were to carry out strikes in an effort to overthrow the Korean regime and change the political pattern in the Korean peninsula it would prevent them from doing so.


      Certainly in the public mind the conflict comes down to a pissing match
      between these two....
      it would be funny if it were not so frightening in its potential outcomes.

      VS.


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          jondo
          2 months ago

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          I saw that on John Oliver's show last weekend.....what a deadly combo he and Yankovic make......Maybe a goofy song and Tom Hanks could make a difference.

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                  MurphtheSurf3
                  2 months ago

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                  Hey Murph, this is very deeply thought out in terms of possible strategic approaches but I don't think the proposition is applicable in the real world.


                  No attack on North Korea is viable unless the deaths of millions of people and the potential of clouds of radiation floating around that region (South Korea, Russia, China, Japan, etc.) sounds acceptable to anyone. The Pentagon has run simulations on a wide variety of scenarios for an attack on NK and they all result in at least 1 million being killed on each side. If we were to blow up their nukes, radiation could be very widely dispersed and if we miss any, the launch of one at Tokyo or Seoul would be catastrophic.


                  Not to mention the humanitarian crisis with NK and SK being completely destabilized.


                  The one area that our military has failed repeatedly is in understanding blowback on military ventures. Al Qaeda and ISIS are just two examples of it. Who's to say that someone even more mentally unstable than Kim Jong-un couldn't suddenly rise to power in NK and take vengeance with remaining nukes?


                  I don't see any military option for the US to disarm NK that wouldn't create a horrible crisis. Kim won't attack the US because all of this is about protecting him and his regime from being taken out of power. The end game for him isn't a nuclear war, it's protecting himself and negotiating from a position of strength. Considering the options, we may just have to accept that they, like a few other nations, will have nukes but MAD will prevent them from ever using them. Not a preferred option but better than destroying that entire region of the world.

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                      Adlib
                      2 months ago

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                      Your analysis is one I generally accept as well. My essay here gathers together the thinking I am seeing in the military resources that I regularly peruse. The action here is actually short of an all out attack that involves a land and sea and air invasion of NK with Tactical Nukes to back it up.


                      It seems to me that these scenarios are based on one presupposition:

                      - There is no choice but to act in a military fashion.

                      That "no choice" would mean that either a NK attack is imminent OR a decision has been made that under no circumstances can NK have a nuclear weapons capacity.

                      I suggest that even the most optimistic predictions presume that there is little or no leakage from the nuclear targets, that most of the artillery rimming the DMZ is knocked out early, and that the NK counterattack is met with sufficient force that NK quickly sues for peace. The most pessimistic tend to lean in the direction of the narrative you point to.

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                          MurphtheSurf3
                          3 months ago

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                          The U.S. and China both oppose the reunification of Korea. They fear the possible strength of a united Korea. U.S. policy was revealed in a speech Hillary Clinton gave to the ruling class, but never intended to get to ordinary people. See https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/04/gaius-publ... I do believe her remarks reflected the consensus of the ruling class. The speech was given to Goldman Sachs, whose people surrounded Clinton and surround Trump. They remain in power regardless of what happens in elections in this very undemocratic country.

                          Not sure the ruling class' attitude towards hostilities in Korea which would have the effect of weakening both the North and the South. I think they probably have some fear of destabilization, but would also welcome weakening of the economic power of South Korea. How these balance out I don't know.


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                              MurphtheSurf3
                              3 months ago

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                              Good Post S/S

                              China, with its latest quasi-official statement has "guaranteed" GPRK's safety as long as it does not launch a first strike. China does NOT want to see a reunified Korean peninsula and will work hard to prevent one. Russia likely agrees.

                              North Korea is not as vulnerable as you paint it though if conventional weapons are used.

                              Striking and destroying the missile launch sites and Nuclear sites is less than simple as they are numerous and scattered over the country:

                              Keeping in mind that 50 cruse missiles did NOT destroy an air base in Syria, numerous hits from multiple strikes will be needed to destroy Launch sites, research sites, bunkers, and CIC installations accordingly.

                              In 2010 there were 58 active SAM sites in hardened bunkers in the DPRK with more AAA positioned on the DMZ and coast. http://geimint.blogspot.com/2010/06/north-korean-s...

                              N. Korea has 76 Diesel Electric submarines (read quiet), most built since 1991 with 7 of those having missile launch capability. DE subs, without screw cavitation, can get past sonorbuoys with low probability of being detected when running "quiet". Those are enough subs to cause major concerns for anyone operating in the Sea of Japan or the South China Sea.

                              Seoul may well have underground shelters and bunkers. But the current population of Seoul is 10M souls and I seriously doubt that there is half that much planned bunker space available.

                              North Korea has 2400 Rocket launchers, 4300 towed tube artillery and another 2250 pieces of self propelled tube artillery. Most of this is spread along the DMZ bordering the North and South, a 160 mile distance.

                              http://www.globalfirepower.com/country-military-st...


                              The point of all of this is there is no quick game. The United States does not have (and cannot assemble) the resources necessary in the area to take out the needed facilities to prevent a tragic loss of tens of thousands of civilian lives. This is without the reprisal from China and (perhaps) Russia for the aggression.

                              If nukes were used by the US in a first strike, our nation would rightly become a pariah to the world as being the ONLY NATION TO USE NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN WAR. I could easily see the majority of the rest of the world demanding we disarm ourselves of ALL nuclear weapons and nuclear capability.

                              Any aggression involving a first move by the United States is worse than a Zero Sum game.

                              A Zero Sum game is the BEST we can hope for. Thanks, in part, to Donald Trump, but to his predecessors also. A poorly handled situation for over 20 years.


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