The text below is a copy of an email I sent out last year (around this time) regarding the ongoing crisis between the international community and North Korea. In light of recent events, I thought I would provided it as a resource for anyone wanting a quick and perhaps hasty backstory synopsis of the current situation. I may be off on a few points but overall I think it's accurate. I didn't delve into any of the dirty shenanigans by the west which has contributed to this potential catastrophe, as the ill effects of yankee imperialism was a basic presupposition I shared with the emails recipient, so those sentiments were left unspoken.
Also, I drafted this email and sent it off in a rush, so the writing and content does not reflect my best efforts (I've left everything as is, typos and all), but I think its a good primer and starting point for better understanding this crisis, which I think is deadly serious.
Tue, Jun 2, 2009 at 6:04 PM
So, I’ve been looking at the Korea situation real heavy lately. I have always kept an eye on it and like you, have warned that it will boil over again someday. The 2nd Infantry Division has been on a permanent war footing ever since the armistice (interrupted for 11 years between 54 and 65) and the 1st Brigade, which is based in Korea not far from the DMZ, trains harder than any other conventional element in the US Army, with more live fires, ammo expenditure and field maneuvers than any other peacetime division.
A soldier will spend most of his tour in the field preparing to stem a North Korean advance just long enough for division reinforcements to arrive. They are deployed so forward that any surprise attack would kill a large percentage of them through the NK artillery barrage alone, so in a way, its almost a suicide mission should an attack occur and they are caught napping. For those guys, including their South Korean allies (KATUSA) who are embedded with them and any ROK troops or civilians who live within range of the shells (like the millions who live in Seoul), the threat is real and its always been a matter of when, not if, the "Second Korean War" will kick off.
I remember a veteran of the first Korean War I met while working at the club. He would stumble over to our bar after last call at the legion which was across the tracks behind us (right next to my old place) and after seeing him a few times, I struck up a conversation which became a routine anytime he dropped in. I remember one time a couple punks were making fun of him as he stood by the door speaking with me. He would sometimes get pretty excited when telling a story and he would often mimic shooting a machine gun or something, which probably looked pretty silly.
Anyhow, I told them both to #$%#$^^ and continued by saying this "funny old man" had killed better men with a cold bayonet and they should @#^#%@^ unless they wanted similar treatment from this guy. I know that sounds funny but it felt good to say that at the time. Right or wrong, this man thought he was doing the right thing and he has to carry around some heavy emotional baggage because of what his country asked him to do. He didn't deserve to be laughed at or dismissed...
...But, I digress. He talked a lot about the war and of course with my interest in history, I plugged him with questions. He mentioned how the Chinese would sound the bugle before a human wave attack and he said that would send shivers down his spine and scare him half to death before the fighting even started. He also said the Chinese (and the NK units I presume) were fearless and tough fighters who would continue advancing regardless of losses until the bugle sounded for them to retreat. He said it was almost like they were brainwashed or something, advancing like robots until they were knocked down by heavy machine gun fire or ordered to retreat.
Scary stuff for sure and if there is a war with NK, they won’t fight like some raggedy ass third world army (like Iraq or Taliban). Aside from the threat posed by WMD (a real threat this time) and artillery, they have the fifth largest standing army in the world and their front line units (70 percent of which are positioned close to the DMZ) are extremely disciplined, highly trained and relatively well equipped. They also have about 4 million (more according to some sources) men and women between the age of 15 and 60 ready to be called up as a trained reserve force. The special ops or SPF units (100, 000 strong) they have are also top notch and would wreak havoc behind the lines in South Korea. I remember reading a good memoir called, "Tears of my Soul".
It was written by a North Korean agent who blew up Korean Airlines Flight 858 killing 115 people. I read it years ago and I keep thinking back to that book, so it had obviously had an impact on me. She may have been a plant of course but on face value, the book provides a brief glimpse into that world. I'm convinced NK is not a paper tiger and even without the military threat, any destabilization in that country, such as sudden regime change, could very easily lead to the largest humanitarian disaster the US and her allies have ever faced.
the book on bio war looks interesting; I will look forward to your review of it. I looked it up and it said 87 as a publishing date, so it may be a bit outdated but still valuable probably. Lots of documents seem to list it as a source.
As for NK, I am not so sure Kim Jong Il is a very rational actor, so trying to guess his intentions is difficult at best. This is the same guy who kidnaps film directors and dreams have possessing a bio weapon capable of ridding the world of Caucasians, so who knows what crazy schemes are rattling around in this guy’s noggin.
Some insist this latest round of bluster was aimed at internal politics and the recent naming of his youngest son, Kim something-or-other, as his successor lends credence to that view.
On the other hand, the capability to pose a combined conventional and asymmetric threat to ROK, US forces and civilians caught inside the peninsula is huge and shouldn't be dismissed. Military forces in the region are at Watchcon 2, which is the second highest alert level, so NK definitely has their attention.
In my opinion, the NBC and terror threat is not the only thing to worry about. I can envision several USS Pueblo style reaction-counter reaction scenarios that could lead to a conventional first strike by NK at this point. I won't bore you to death with the nerdy fine print but since NK's "military first" campaign has kicked into gear, military activity and strength has reached record levels (post 2000) and its army doctrine centers around a strong, two front offensive capability aimed at quickly overwhelming the CFC forces while SOF units attack vital targets along the route of advance and behind the lines.
Their large fleet of outdated but quiet diesel electric subs would then wage sea denial missions long enough for NK to complete its objectives and the leadership to leverage (if not prearranged) for a China/Russia sponsored UN cease fire plan, which might include nominal or even complete withdrawal of NK forces back to the 38th followed by a pledge of international peacekeepers, which would put pressure on the Yanks to halt what would inevitably be a complete and total destruction of DPRK forces, first by air and then amphibious and airborne infantry assault.
It’s a ludicrous plan on Kims part of course with little hope of succeeding but with this nutcase, he might be just crazy enough to believe it could work or perhaps his reportedly ruthless son could push for this strategy once he takes the reigns. Throw in China, Russia and the Nuke deterrent on every side and you have a serious world crisis. I doubt even Tom Clancy could invent a worse scenario. Millions of lives hang in the balance at the moment so I hope cooler and wiser heads prevail.