Former USFK Deputy Commander outlines disastrous war with North Korea

On Friday, 10 November Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) published a letter written by the former Deputy Commander of U.S. Forces Korea, which outlines how catastrophic a war with North Korea would be. Here’s a summary of that letter.

  • North Korea is the most dangerous situation since the end of the Cold War, and planning for a war with North Korea was the most challenging in his 35-year career.
  • There are 28,5000 U.S. Armed Forces personnel in South Korea, and are vastly outnumbered by North Korean forces.
  • “We will not be able to build up [U.S.] forces prior to the start of hostilities”.
  • “U.S. reinforcements will take days to months to arrive in theater, as will supplies and equipment.”
  • Once war breaks out, U.S. Forces may find that their bases in South Korea are being targeted by conventional or chemical weapons.
  • “North Korean artillery, rockets, and missiles… will take days to eliminate, even under ideal conditions.” During this time, these North Korean indirect fire pieces will target Seoul, a city of 25 million.
  • There are 100,000 American non-combatants who will need to be evacuated off the Korean Peninsula, should war break out.
  • North Korea is expected to use chemical weapons, and potentially nuclear weapons, making the evacuation of U.S. personnel and the defense of South Korea increasingly complex.
  • North Korea’s asymmetric capabilities, like cyber warfare, “will pose severe challenges”.
  • “North Korean Special Forces, among the largest in the world, will create a second front” behind the forward line of combat.
  • Meanwhile, North Korea submarines remain “capable of sinking allied vessels, sowing mines, and inserting Special Forces units.”
  • North Korean military sites considered to be of high value will have been hardened against attack and concealed in underground facilities.
  • Commander expect North Korean air defenses to pose challenges to flying both manned and unmanned vehicles in the air space above the country.
  • Additionally, North Korea’s mountainous terrain poses challenges and “will significantly degrade” the ability to find, fix, and finish high priority targets.
  • “[I]t’s very unlikely that a limited attack by the U.S. would completely eliminate North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.”
  • “An attack by the U.S. on North Korea’s strategic nuclear capabilities… would most likely be viewed as an existential threat and generate a corresponding response.”

DOWNLOAD the original letter.

Samuel Culper is a former military intelligence NCO and contract Intelligence analyst. He spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the intelligence and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.

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