A few weeks ago I wrote about my opposition to continuing the war in Afghanistan. I explained why. My opposition to remaining in Afghanistan was based on personal experience and a firm understanding that continued fighting is useless. It doesn’t mean I’m a libertarian or a liberal who thinks if we just try to get along with everyone all war can be avoided.
Korea is a whole other ball of wax. Kim Jong-un is directly threatening the United States, not to mention the rest of the world, with hydrogen warheads on his ICBMs, which may or may not be able to hit something other than the Sea of Japan.
North Korea’s current leader is far more confrontational than even his father and grandfather were, and it seems that things may be coming to a head after more than 65 years of stalemate on the Korean Peninsula.
Korea is an interesting socio-political example. You have the Republic of Korea (ROK) in the south which is capitalist, free, prosperous. They have successful trading relationships with much of the world.
Then you have the deceptively named Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the north. Communist, totalitarian, with people living in abject poverty, and what little the country does have used for their military, largely coming from their communist patron, China. North Korea’s military is formidable, but it’s really all they have, making it inevitable that they will eventually want to use it to conquer their southern brothers, and conquer the wealth they’ve accumulated.
When the North comes across the DMZ it will be with the coiled energy of six decades of military buildup. Their artillery will rip apart the massive minefields we’ve laid in wait for them. North Korean commando units will likely infiltrate the South prior to any invasion and wreak havoc. Tanks will enter Seoul in a matter of days, at best. More likely, hours. Maybe we beat them back, at which point Kim Jong Un launches ICBMs carrying nuclear weapons at Tokyo and Washington DC.
That’s the nightmare scenario, of course. There is another option. We could hit them first.
Many on the American Left have expressed displeasure at President Trump’s rhetoric regarding this particular portion of what President George W. Bush called the “Axis of Evil.” Personally, I hope his rhetoric matches the action we actually take.
This country is struggling through difficult times. We’re in serious debt, radical groups of every stripe are rising to create chaos, and this hurricane season is making up for the fact that we have not had a serious hurricane problem since Katrina. The last thing we need is a lunatic running around the Far East with nuclear weapons. What we need second least is to get into yet another protracted war.
President Trump’s rhetoric is not dissimilar to Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ own rhetoric on the matter. Mattis is someone who has much more credibility than Trump on these matters, having served his entire adult life as a Marine officer and is one of the most respected generals in a generation. There is little doubt that he has a plan for every contingency, and I’m sure he is telling Trump exactly what I would tell him, which is this is not a war like we’ve seen in the last half century.
This will not be about politics, or making sure the people of the DPRK like us. Should another open conflict with North Korea come, this will be about the complete annihilation of Kim Jong Un’s military forces, in the air, on the ground, and at sea.
North Korea’s naval forces will be of little concern to our Navy, but as we’ve seen with recent collisions at sea, there is always the possibility of terrorist attacks causing significant damage to our ships. Their air forces are older, and our Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, not to mention the ROK’s very competent Air Force, should have no problem handling them. However, the DPRK has a robust anti-air defense network, including plentiful modernized radars, missiles and anti-aircraft guns. Our pilots would face the densest anti-air network possibly in history.
The B-2 Spirit stealth bomber and the fifth generation F-22 Raptor would no doubt find themselves gainfully employed. B-1Bs and F-15Es, some of them flown by old friends of mine, would likely shoulder the bulk of the strike duties. Mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) batteries would still be a threat even after the stealth aircraft had whittled the stationary SAMs down to size.
Establishing air supremacy very quickly would be vital. The Korean Penninsula doesn’t have a lot of land to trade for time, and Seoul, the capital and home to a quarter of the population of the ROK, isn’t far from the DMZ.
The ground war will be messy. We can move soldiers fairly quickly by air, but moving M-1A2 Abrams tanks, Strykers, and Bradleys is much more difficult and time consuming. Equipment prepositioned at various locations cuts down on the time, but as I mentioned already, time is at a premium. The armies of the US and ROK will need to slow the advance of the DPRK until the Air Force and Navy can start to cut off their supply routes and then kill the advancing units.
I have no doubt we will win, but the casualties will be high, and we have to make certain we hit the DPRKs nuclear capabilities very early on to prevent a scorched earth retaliation. The war will be fast and furious, but if it comes, I hope it will be one trouble spot we can finally leave behind and allow the ROK to integrate what is left of the DPRK into their society with a minimum of help from us. We don’t need more mouths to feed. I’ve already pointed out we have enough problems already.