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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

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North Korea Learning From Asymmetric Fighting In Middle East PDF Print E-mail
Written by Aerospace Daily   
Friday, 02 October 2009

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A force of 80,000 North Korean soldiers trained in special operations and recently schooled in the employment of enhanced, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) -- whose use was refined during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan -- is now among the top threats to the South Korean government in Seoul.

Pyongyang has retrained its special forces based on lessons learned from the fighting in the Middle East, says Gen. Walter Sharp, the head of United Nations Command and U.S. Forces, Korea. Operating south of the demilitarized zone, these units have been designed to create chaos in the early days of a conflict.

Such forces would be unsupportable in the long term, but U.S. intelligence officials tell Aviation Week that the intention would be for a sharp strike -- much of it focused on the population center of Seoul

-- followed by an immediate offer of peace negotiations before allied retaliation is in full swing.

"What they are focused on is not necessarily conventional attack," Sharp says. "They realize they could not win in a conventional attack. So what other things can they hold at risk to push through the gains that they want?" Key capabilities such as growing its ballistic missile arsenal, cyber attacks and a budding nuclear weapons program, "are what [North Koreans] are pushing for," he says.

"If they are putting money into anything consistently, it's ... missile technology, continued development of a nuclear capability and their special operating forces," Sharp says. A single missile with a weapon of mass destruction warhead "can hold a lot of people at bay," he says.

"We worry about cyber," Sharp continues. "[The North Koreans] have seen the benefits of cyber and what we rely on as far as [digital] network to command and operate. They would use that for provocations and limited attacks. That's why the [South Koreans] are standing up a Cyber Command.

"The rest of the military is very old," he says. "We're trying to get a defense capability in place to defend against those [missiles]. We're also starting to work very hard to make sure we're learning the lessons out of Iraq and Afghanistan about IEDs and other types of devices that [the North Koreans] have learned from. I am confident that their enhanced [special operating forces] units will use those capabilities."

The huge, antiquated and barely motorized North Korean army would be savaged by allied airpower, Sharp says. Therefore, it is not considered the most imminent threat to the peninsula.

Military intelligence officials say that North Korean attack plans rely on infantry traveling on foot until they can capture South Korean civilian and military vehicles. Moreover, the narrow road corridors leading from North Korea to the south are expected to be immediately choked into immobility. Intelligence official contend that the North Korea military has logistics for perhaps 7-10 days of campaigning. Because of such structural limitations, Pyongyang's army, navy and air force would play a minor role in any conflict compared to North Korea's combat use of asymmetrical capabilities, which require less visible mobilization, the officials say.

To begin addressing the network attack threat, South Korea is forming a Cyber Command that will work in conjunction with U.S. cyber operations capabilities.

- David A. Fulghum * This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

AVIATION WEEK AEROSPACE DAILY & DEFENSE REPORT Daily Business intelligence for the global aerospace and defense industry since 1963
October 01, 2009
Vol. 232    Issue 1
Copyright 2009 The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.



 
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