Monday, April 17, 2017

Q&A on the situation with North Korea.

Here I will list a series of questions that I have been asked by people I know regarding the situation with North Korea. I spent some time living in South Korea while I was in the Army, including time at the US Army Second Infantry Division HQ and some time at the US Special Operations Command Korea (SOCKOR). I'll be paraphrasing some of the questions.

Q: Is the NK military capable of striking the US mainland with a nuclear weapon?

A: When I was in Korea, our best intelligence estimates had them about seven years away from possessing the capability to land an ICBM inside the continental US. That's been about five years ago, and keep in mind that 0bama did nothing to advance our interests in the Far East. My estimate at this point is that they're about 18-24 months away from being able to do that, but it's also possible that they could get lucky enough to make it happen now.

It takes more than just having a missile capable of that distance though. You've got to have the targeting system to get it done. It's one thing to launch a missile at a target as big as North America and hitting it. It's another thing entirely to make it land inside the target zone you're looking for. Los Angeles might be a big city, but it's a small target for an ICBM. On top of that, Washington DC or NYC might as well be on the other side of the planet from LA.

Q: Are they capable of arming an ICBM with a nuclear warhead?

A: As it stands right now, the NK military does not have the ability to produced a mountable nuclear weapon. Building a nuclear device for underground testing is what they've done a few times recently, but the science behind the explosive reaction is the only similarity between testing and actually mounting a deliverable nuclear device to an ICBM.

Q: How would the US defend itself against a nuclear attack from NK?

A: The US has the most advanced anti-missile defense systems in the world. Our systems, including THAAD and the Aegis Missile Defense System, are the most capable anti-missile systems in the world. While these systems are not perfect or foolproof, I have confidence that any launch by NK could be defended against. One reason is that if or when NK launches an ICBM, it's not likely to be more than one or two. The odds of our systems being overwhelmed by numbers is nil.

Q: Is the US the most likely nation target of NK?

A: It's hard to say as events continue to develop, but historically, South Korea and Japan have been more of a target than the US. With that said, new developments in range capabilities will begin to negate our advantage of being an ocean away from the Korean Peninsula.

Q: If war on the peninsula broke out, what would that look like?

A: A full scale, conventional war on the Korean Peninsula would be immediately jump to number one in the biggest in the world today. The initial artillery salvos on both sides would inflict massive damage and casualties. The North Koreans have threatened civilian targets for decades, which would be tantamount to an act of desperation right away. NK would attempt to use hordes of small, light aircraft to dump thousands of special operations forces (SOF) all over the South. Many of them would be shot down and many would die or get wounded on the jump. The US Army Second Infantry Division in Korea has a motto of "Fight Tonight", and they are always to do so. The US Air Force would likely begin bombing targets inside NK and the Navy carrier groups enroute as we speak would begin running missions to shoot down NK aircraft and provide air support for ground troops.

Aside from some of those things we know, we don't know exactly what it would look like considering the mindset of NK forces. It's sure to say that there would be numbers of NK military members who would be looking for an opportunity to defect. Should these defections be on a moderate to large scale, that will play a significant role.

What I can say for sure is that we can expect large amounts of casualties and damage from the initial artillery barrages. The amount of artillery ordinance both sides have aimed at each other on any given day is staggering.

Q: Do you consider NK to be a credible threat to US national security?

A: Yes, I do. They have made many serious threats toward the US for years and are actively pursuing the means to carry out exactly what they are threatening. If they do not have the ability to do those things today, they will in the near future.

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