We’ve often heard it said that the U.S. has “no good options” when it comes to the use of military force against North Korea, but that’s not to say the Pentagon has no options at all.
In fact, U.S. and South Korean military planners have been training for the day when they will be ordered to strike North Korea and take out its leadership, as well as the country’s nuclear and chemical munitions.
The ongoing military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea is focusing in part on OPLAN 5015, which takes a more 21st-century approach in dealing with the North Korean threat.
As noted by The National Interest:
Whether Kim Jong-un will live to see the results is another matter.
He might be assassinated by U.S. and South Korean special forces, or buried in his bunker by a bunker-buster bomb. Other smart bombs might take out his command posts and nuclear facilities. The authoritarian state of North Korea could become a state without authority, its leadership decapitated by precisely targeted strikes.
Or at least that seems to be America’s plan for fighting the next Korean War. And with North Korea conducting a new wave of ballistic missile tests, and U.S and South Korean forces practicing how to destroy North Korean nuclear sites, that plan is becoming more relevant.
While the plan remains classified, U.S. and South Korean forces have reportedly been training to implement it since 2015.
Why it’s on our radar: As noted by GlobalSecurity.org, “The new plan was said to adapt to changes in the security environment by focusing on making a swifter and more energetic military response than the previous OPLAN 5027, incorporating the concept of a preemptive strike.”
So obviously, there ARE options to deal with North Korea militarily if it comes to that. It was always naive to think that the Pentagon had not sufficiently war-gamed several North Korean scenarios. Bunker-buster weapons, smart munitions, cyber attacks and special forces troops would all be utilized. The goal would be to not turn the conflict into Korean War II if at all possible.