Print The role of the United Nations Command UNC in deterring North Korean aggression and maintaining peace on the Korean peninsula could assume greater importance over the next few years as a result of three factors: The UNC is the best organization to meet these and other challenges and changes on the Korean peninsula, but it will need to be revitalized and modernized.
Search Toggle display of website navigation Feature: North Korean artillery has pummeled sites around Seoul, leaving thousands of South Korean and American civilians and service members dead.
A toxic combination of North Korean provocations and U. As the generals fill an auditorium-sized sand-table battlefield showing the disposition of friendly forces and the extent of likely follow-up attacks, hundreds of thousands of South Koreans are displaced in and around Seoul, seeking shelter and safety.
This is a fictional scenario, but an all-too-possible one. Army intelligence officer in South Korea, I helped prepare for various war scenarios by testing assumptions and refining war plans in several theaterwide exercises.
Put fears of full-blown nuclear war aside for a moment. We can expect a massive humanitarian crisis, enormous loss of life, and economic disaster. And the belligerent rhetoric of North Korean propaganda, with its talk of triumph and total war, could leave its own leaders mistakenly convinced that they would win such a conflict, just as the sloppy toughness coming out of the White House might leave them convinced that the United States is about to strike anyway.
Whatever the prompt, once the decision is made to attack, North Korea will move swiftly to accomplish its war objectives — either to seize all of its southern neighbor and make itself de facto master of the peninsula or to execute a limited attack to remind the world of its teeth.
From the beginning, the North will operate on a ticking clock. The logistical capabilities of the North Korean military, assuming only limited wartime assistance from China at best, will only last for a few days before the country runs out of food, ammunition, fuel, and water.
Some units may be able to operate for as long as a few weeks, but maintaining supply lines across mountainous terrain will be an almost impossible task. The North will most likely lose its major command-and-control infrastructure in the first few hours, crippling its ability to communicate across the battlefield.
That will leave the North with only a brief window to entertain dreams of victory. That means a massive barrage in the first few hours of the conflict, targeting the largest U. Other targets could include air and naval bases in the South, and possibly Japan, to prevent an allied counterattack and soften defenses for a possible entry by the North Korean military along the DMZ or via small-scale amphibious landings in the east and west.
Pyongyang will fire short-range ballistic missiles and multiple rocket launchers near simultaneously to destroy these few dozen high-value defense infrastructure targets.
Although estimates vary, some figures indicate that North Korea has approximately 1, missiles positioned across the country and most of them within reach of Seoul.
To put that in context, each would be enough to annihilate anything in one to two city blocks. Since the end of the Korean War, the North has developed asymmetric capabilities in areas such as biological, chemical, and cyber.
Some estimates indicate that North Korea possesses 2, to 5, metric tons of chemical weapons including nerve agents like sarin and VX.
Biological weapons such as small pox and anthrax may also play a role. In the event of a war, North Korea will not hesitate to launch chemical and biological weapons at South Korean and U. A biologically or chemically contaminated site would have to be treated with special care, requiring all forces in the area to don protective gear and severely disrupting South Korean and U.
Delivering these payloads would not be challenging, as North Korean missiles are capable of carrying chemical and biological weapons in place of conventional explosives. Decentralized attacks could also be in the cards, as North Korea has reportedly recruited hundreds of spies across the world to conduct various missions.
Those agents would likely be blended into the larger North Korean population and could be activated to carry out attacks using weapons of mass destruction in the South.
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