Tuesday, April 9, 2013

N Korea Shoot-out



Destroy the Running Dogs of Capitalism
CNN reports that North and South Korea are exchanging artillery barrages -- and golly, they might go to war, and the US MIGHT have to become involved, and gosh, we might have to ramp up our military presence since North Korea might annihilate the world and spread terrorism, and all kinds of bad things.

Or, perhaps our Defense contractors spotted the Dear Leader in North Korea a few million bucks to start a war so they could market some new military equipment -- and send more of our troops into combat needlessly.

We discussed in our last blog post on Korea a comparative Order of Battle to reflect military strengths and capabilities.  Here, we expand on that to underscore the duration of a conflict between North and South Korea -- which we estimate at roughly 30 minutes.

We reintroduce the blog post we created last year at this time, for your edification.

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Now that we've discussed the strategy of the principals [North Korea, South Korea, USA, China, Russia] in this curious event, we've been pinged by readers wondering about how much damage North Korea can inflict before they're brought to heel.

Business Insider [BI] assessed that North Korea would level Seoul within two hours.

-- We suggest that BI abandon its Military Intelligence element and devote itself to studying
Samsung TVs and Cell Phones since they have no idea what they're talking about;
their tactical intelligence is faulty, as is their analytical capability.  We will give them credit, however, for publishing Pentagon "leaks" on NK nuclear facilities.

On the other hand, Popular Mechanics [PM], is a more down-to-earth hands-on magazine which sought expert opinion and also analyzed the North Korean equipment from a hands-on perspective.

The attack begins           [PBS]
The standard scenario is that North Korea will operate using Soviet style tactics, and launch
1)  a massive artillery barrage which will devastate Seoul
2)  an air attack to bombard South Korea [ROK] ground troops and
      destroy the ROK Air Force
3)  a ground attack of 9 million armed forces to destroy
     the ROK and US/UN Army
4)  a missile [IRBM] attack against all military targets in
      South Korea [there are 2 - 3 of these]
5)  a nuclear ICBM fired at Japan, and or at the US


So, what does the North Korean Threat look like:

170mm SP Field Gun
NK Artillery:  Approximately 8,000 howitzers and field guns lined up along the border; most in fortified positions.  The majority are 1960s vintage, some go back to WW2.  Most have a range of less than 20 miles.  Their most modern gun is the 170mm Koksan field gun which has an optimal range of 32 miles, if it adds a rocket assist to the artillery round.

-- And, Seoul is 35 miles away, and the guns are positioned several miles behind the DMZ; so there's that distance factor of the artillery rounds falling between five and 15 miles short of Seoul.


More dangerous would be the 200 or so 240mm MRLs [Multiple Rocket Launcher], with a maximum range of about 35 miles; but, since they'll be positioned a few miles behind the DMZ, they too will fall short of Seoul.  But, they'll fire thousands of rockets and make a lot of noise, and tear hell out of the areas between the DMZ and Seoul.

IRBM launches are not always successful, and on occasion, explode on the launch pad, or fall considerably short of their targets -- unacceptable in the nuclear CEP (circular probable error) gauge.

Vulnerable to Daisy-Cutters*


NK Army: consisting of about 1 Million Active Duty troops, plus nearly 5 Million Reservists, is a formidable force; but, only about 10% of that force represent combat troops; the rest are Service and/or Support troops [standard disposition for most armies in the world].



NK Special Forces: 
But, the big threat may be the 90,000 NK Special Forces who would theoretically infiltrate South Korea via the 20 tunnels they've been building for the last 50 years.  The probability of those tunnels having been created soundlessly, and thus invisible, is nil.  Of course, not all the SF troops would sneak in via tunnels; those not arriving by tunnel would jump in by air, or swim in from the sea.

25 year old technology
NK Army Tanks:  3,500 MBTS [Main Battle Tanks].  Most are 1960s era or earlier.  The more recent are hybrids, mounting heavier guns on 30 year old chassis.  They are no match for US and ROK tanks which are faster, more heavily armored, and mount more powerful guns. 
[Gasoline/Diesel may be in short supply]



MIG 29

NK Air Force:  About 600 combat aircraft, the most advanced being the 1980s era MIG 29 -- a sophisticated fighter and designed as a match for the US F-15 and F-16; they also have the 1970s era SU-25 close-air support fighter.

With periodic upgrades, these are credible aircraft in conventional environs, but would likely be short-lived in air-to-air combat with US/ROK fighters, and easy targets for stand-off operational aircraft.  They would also be easy pickings for US drones.


Sukhoi PAK FA Stealth Fighter
The Wild Card would be the appearance of Russian or Chinese Stealth aircraft, such as the Russian PAK-FA, which would equal US Stealth aircraft. 

Though not probable, it would be wise for US planners to anticipate such an introduction.





SANG-O Class Mini-Sub
NK Navy:  A "Green Water Navy"
-- i.e., Coastal Defense/shallow water operations.
1) With WW2 vintage diesel submarines and three surface vessels of value, poses as great a threat as does that of Bolivia's Navy. 
2) They do have mini-subs which could harass the US/ROK Navies, and one was reportedly the culprit in blowing up the BP's Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico a while back [supposedly to enhance the value of Venezuela's petroleum production].

               Locations of NK's Nuclear facilities                                                              [Business Insider]
Reportedly safe since they are buried deep below ground, and the critical ones are positioned near the Chinese border.   Here's the nuclear site disposition, according to Pentagon "leaks" to the Business Insider, which notes that these are sites "believed" to be the nuclear test sites and for rocket testing.







Despite the extraordinary measures to bury these facilities deep below the earth to avoid detection and destruction, we suspect the USAF is anxious to try out its latest Bunker Buster which has the capability of penetrating 60 meters of reinforced concrete.

It would seem that North Korea's nuclear facilities are not safe after all.

And, we haven't had a successful test of a bunker buster since we fired one into the sided of the Pentagon on 9/11.  So, our Military contractors are anxious for another test.







So, how do we protect Seoul, South Korea, and the good old USA from this threat?


US FORCES - KOREA
From what we can determine, most, if not all of the damage estimates projected on South Korea following a sneak attack by North Korea presume that there are no defenses, and the US forces and the ROK forces will be partying in Bali; thus, South Korea and Seoul will be completely defenseless.

Far be it from us to argue such a point, but, in spite of all the Media coverage on this dire threat, here's what the good guys have going for them. 

Basically, the US and the ROK have superior weaponry, both tactical and strategic. 
Ultimately, the trump card in this conflict will be the absolute Air Superiority the US Air Force will ensure within the first hour of any conflict with North Korea.

US/ROK Artillery:  US howitzers and Field Guns have, for the most part, been relegated to museums, replaced by rockets and ballistic missiles, which tend to have longer ranges with a significantly greater impact.



The M270A1 MRL [Multiple Launch Rocket system]
can fire guided and unguided missiles only 26 - 35 miles.
Alternately, firing ten ballistic missiles per minute,
it has a range of 190 miles, well beyond the DMZ.








The MGM-140 ATACMS has a range of about 190 miles and can deliver a range of fairly lethal warheads.  These are quite accurate and can destroy large installations, air fields, and large concentrations of enemy troops.








ROK Army:         640,000 [Active Duty]
                              300,000 paramilitary                   
                           2,900,000 Reserves, 
ROK Marines:       28,000 Marines
US Troops:
             30,000 Grunts



ROK Navy:   170 commissioned ships, including 10 submarines
US Naval Forces - Korea:  70 ships, 300 aircraft,
      
5 nuclear submarines with missile launch capability
       40,000 Marines





ROK Air Force:  760 aircraft, including 60 x F-15s, 28 x F-16s, 68 x F4s -- all a good match for the NK fighters.


B2, F18s,  F22s
U S Air Force - Korea (US 7th Air Force:
Tactical:  F-15s, F-16s, A10A,
Long range support:  B1, B2 Stealth bombers








AC-130 Gunship

[The AC-130 Gunship includes massive firepower, and highly sophisticated electronics and sensors to detect and monitor ground activities -- to include mini-submarines.  

Nearly immune to SAMs, it can deliver devastating artillery [105 mm] shells to pinpoint accuracy, accompanied by Gatling Guns delivering 25mm and 40mm rounds at a very high rate of firepower. 


[One was reportedly flying over Benghazi, but ordered by SecDef Panetta to not engage the al Qaeda forces attacking the US Consulate; it would have made quick work of the al Qaeda unit dispatched by Morsi.]

Daisy Cutters* are air-dropped bombs designed to eliminate enemy troops massed in an area of about 3 miles in diameter.

Today in Korea; tomorrow in Texas
Ultimately, this conflict will allow the US to test its new Drone Air Corps to determine its utility in opposed combat scenarios.  The big question, of course, will be if the the Pentagon will relent and allow the Drone Game Boy Medal to be awarded for heroic efforts by the Las Vegas gamer force.

If the drones are tried and proven, we expect they'll become even
more prolific in the DHS campaign against US citizenry than in the recent past -- and a far greater threat to the US than anyone could imagine.


Having reviewed the Order of Battle of both sides of this unusual battle scenario, we believe that China will observe, but not involve itself -- assuming we don't have a repeat of the MacArthur invasion idiocy which caused the first Korean Invasion to mushroom into a major war. 

General MacArthur, though, remains a hero at West Point, and its curriculum still includes the study of Korean War tactics, fire-and-maneuver drills, and that perpetual West Point urge to re-fight past wars.  



MG Singlaub

And, we have the venerable MG [ret] John Singlaub, who left his foxhole in Korea to spend the rest of his career -- and life, campaigning against the North Korean threat.  

Jimmy Carter, in a rare moment of mental cohesion, fired Singlaub for his refusal to shut up.  

His apartment has a clear view of the Pentagon which he salutes every morning and evening, or so he says.





Weighing the strengths of both belligerents in this battle, we originally predicted it would last 5 - 10 minutes, in favor of the US and the ROK.  But, we also tossed in the disclaimer that the Pentagon and our Defense Contract community would drag out the conflict for as long as possible to demonstrate that 
1)  US Military Readiness should remain unimpaired [many aviation units are standing down]
2)  The Sequester should not apply to the Military
3)  Defense contracts should continue to grow

If the Military engagements can be drawn out, then there will be new contracts to replace damaged and obsolete equipment, but mostly to buy a large inventory of drones for deployment in the US.

This should be an interesting engagement -- albeit brief.