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.