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Subject: Proposed attack on North's artillery close to Seoul - Any thoughts
JIMF    5/24/2010 5:40:34 PM
"....A surprise attack from B-1 bombers dropping conventional (not nuclear) bombs; warships and submarines launching precision guided cruise missiles from the seas east and west of the peninsula, and South Korean and US artillery firing from south of the DMZ, coordinated to land explosives simultaneously, could trap their targets underground and shock the poorly trained North Korean Army into standing down. Risky? Admittedly, yes. But doing nothing would be to risk another violent North Korean provocation in the unknown future." Richard Halloran, a free lance writer in Honolulu, was a military correspondent for The New York Times for ten years.
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gf0012-aust       5/24/2010 6:56:36 PM
personally, I think its an overly simplified scenario.
military events are constrained by political imperatives.
eg is the issue about regime change?
is the issue about military evisceration?
is the issue about military decapitation to trigger internal dissent due to a weakened military and para-military cohort and thus encourage regime change from a disgruntled populace?
will such overwhelming use of force china to take a "moral"poisiton of coming to the aid of their largest client so as to not lose face with other china supporters?
bearing in mind that its not in chinas interest to have a united korea
bearing in mind that its not in chinas interest to have an emboldened nth korea - they're struggling to manage them as they are
bearing in mind that a strong but managed Nth Korea enables china to tie up US, Sth Korean and Japanese forces in a blocking manouvre and causes a defacto drain on all 3 countries economies.  "Killing" Nth Korea removes this opportunity to bleed these 3 countries on a financial  defacto basis
etc etc......
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earlm       5/24/2010 10:19:39 PM
If there's a 1% chance your capital gets leveled are you going to risk it?
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Photon       5/25/2010 8:52:57 PM
Just remember a well-known Korean proverb:  Setting the thatched hut on fire, while trying to catch a tick.  The cost of burning down your hut far exceeds the worth of the tick.  Not to mention that batteries of Patriots cannot stop incoming artillery shells and rockets.  Finally, in terms of economic and humanitarian losses, the North has almost nothing to lose, but the South has a plenty to lose.
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DarthAmerica    @JIMF   5/27/2010 8:59:12 PM

It's not really practical. Even setting the politics and economics aside which totally invalidate this option. Striking that many targets simultaneously by surprise and achieving the results you would want is beyond our conventional capability. This is a task that would take weeks to do with air power. It would take almost infallible IPB and moving numbers of aircraft, ships and support assets that would surely forfeit surprise. Then there are the enemies decoys, hardening and counter measures to account for. The USAF went into Kosovo against a much more confined battlespace where the opponent was completely cut off and under constant scrutiny. The targets were emitters in a lot of cases and it was still not possible to get rid of them all. Granted ISR and PGMs have come a long way in the last decade but no so much as to make what your thread suggest realistic. Even if it was you really would be better off going after the guns logistics footprint rather than trying to get all the guns themselves.

One more thing. Be careful when people say the NorKs are poorly trained. They are very adequately trained to fight be their doctrine and have no illusions of an easy fight against them. If you really wanted to do what you suggest. The proper way to do it would be by using very mobile ground components in combination with airpower. Armor, Mechanized, Airborne, Airmobile and Marine Infantry to overrun the North Korean positions so quickly that by the time the front line stabilizes Seoul is out of range. This could be achieved within a day and probably before catastrophic damage was inflicted on Seoul. But it would not have the kind of surprise you are looking for due to the lengthy deployment time and rather obvious disposition of the force. Not to mention that force is and has been rather busy elsewhere for the last decade.

You'd have to use nuclear weapons to do this via airpower alone. 

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smitty237       5/28/2010 12:25:34 AM
As far as the US is concerned I think we can pretty much take nuclear weapons off the table.  At this point I'm not entirely confident that President Obama would deploy nuclear weapons even in North Korea detonated one. 
This is a war nobody wants.  We would win, but the cost in human life would be enormous for both civilians and military.  Conceivably the US alone could lose more soldiers in a matter of weeks in another Korean war than we have in some years in Iraq.  That is why so many people really wanted the cause of the sinking of the South Korean ship to be anything other than a North Korean torpedo.  The South waited until they had definitive proof until they declared that the North sank their ship, and the North responded with characteristic irrational truculence, declaring that any retaliation would result in "all out war."  The dilemma facing the South and the US is an uncomfortable one.  Do they prepare for a NorK invasion and hope for the best, or do they launch a preemptive strike and cut the head off of the snake before it strikes?  I seriously doubt that a "shock and awe" aerial attack on the NorKs will convince its military to "stand down."  The military is too indoctrinated and the population too brainwashed to collapse without a fight. 
I have to agree with DA about the NorK military.  It may be poorly equipped, but it is not poorly motivated or trained and it would be a mistake to go to war against the North thinking that they will be as easy to defeat as the Iraqis were in 2003.  The NorKs will fight, and some units may fight to the death.  This is one situation where maintaining the status quo for as long as possible is the goal. 
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YelliChink       5/28/2010 12:55:19 AM

 The proper way to do it would be by using very mobile ground components in combination with airpower. Armor, Mechanized, Airborne, Airmobile and Marine Infantry to overrun the North Korean positions so quickly that by the time the front line stabilizes Seoul is out of range.


I appreciate you share your professional knowledge on this one, but I don't think this can be done without high risk of failure. KPA have in decades entrenched and fortified alone DMZ. From open source analysis posted on by a Korean national, it seems to me that KPA has plan to hold several large firing bases and continue firing artillery into Seoul region, even with the front line breached and deeply penetrated. It is particularly nasty around Kaesong area where a large water reservoir is surrounded by hills, perfect for setting up defensive network, system of underground bunker connected by tunnels and bomb shelter for large artillery pieces.
Especially not so when the whole DPRK is in the state of war at the moment.
If the unfortunate event ever happens, chances are Seoul area will be shelled by 122mm rockets and 170mm cannons for few days.
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Photon       5/28/2010 2:05:23 AM
The kind of surgical airstrikes that we have seen in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan will have limited usefulness against North Korea.  The North Koreans are a conventional enemy who have had decades to set up elaborate defensive networks and staging areas along the DMZ.  Two things are at premium:  Speed and volume.  Must have the ability to come in very quickly, then hose down large areas without a break.  As DA has already pointed out, this is impossible unless we resort to nukes.  Plus, it is going to be all but impossible for the US and ROK to hide military preparations against the North.
Another formidable obstacle is the repressive nature of North Korea.  While the US has had human intel advantage with special forces familiar with local cultures in Iraq and Afghanistan, not the case with the North.  I doubt ROK is much better off, other than having access to some high-level defectors.  (Not terribly difficult for the North to train, then send in spies and assassins into the South, but not the other way around!)  To size up intangibles like troop and officer attitude and morale, we need human intel, but this is hard to get from the North.  Darn ....
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Mikko       5/28/2010 7:24:04 AM
My suggestion has something to do with the lack of human intel, meaning there are probably more difficulties in getting in propaganda messages than it has been in other cases.
Anyway. I'll exaggerate this to underline the general idea. And, I leave the channel problem away from this and just focus on the core logic.
1) Deliver a message to North Korean gunners that every crew that fires a single shell towards Seoul will have their sensitive places mutilated before a medieval execution and their families burned on stake. Encourage them not to fire their cannons in a very graphic manner; base the threat on the fact that Seoul is a civilian target. Do your best to make them fear you more than they fear Kim.
2) Also deliver a message that promises safety, housing, and modest luxuries to the gunners who comply. Remind them that the war is a lost cause and that they will lose. Also, referring to another solution set I described in another thread, promise 5000 dollars for each lock of a howitzer and 50 dollars for each fuze they bring to enemy troops.
- This might be called an offer you can't refuse
3) Tell the rest of the world that you are doing this and that you are not really mutilating or burning anyone. Naturally you'd want to keep your promise of the rewards because you shouldn't deny the American dream from the poor buggers.
Ok, that's not rocket science. But the same attributes that make NoK difficult to penetrate also allows creating leverage to yourself in outside media (difficulties into opportunities). Of course there will be government officials monitoring foreign press but not to an extent that would undo the confusion amongst the gunners.
There are probably a hundred reasons why this wouldn't work. Main point is that all solutions are not about strict military tactics. 
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JIMF       5/28/2010 3:23:40 PM
Thanks Darth and others.  Not my idea but from a military correspondent for the New York Times, which in itself sounds suspect.  He made it sound all too easy.
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DarthAmerica       5/28/2010 6:06:04 PM

Thanks Darth and others.  Not my idea but from a military correspondent for the New York Times, which in itself sounds suspect.  He made it sound all too easy.

Indeed he did. I know the ground components could do whats being suggested with a reasonable chance of success assuming they are available and had the time to deploy. But after securing the immediate objective of destroying the artillery, we'd be faced with winning the resulting war. I have little doubt about the ultimate military success but I would caution anybody who thinks that this would be easy or bloodless to think again. We are talking thousands and maybe tens of thousands of allied military casualties and an enormous blow to the local and global economy.

With air and naval power alone? Forget about it. 

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