Archive for the 'Korea' Category



North Korean Nuclear Blustering

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 8 months ago

The criminals in North Korea are thumping their chest.

North Korea welcomed the new year Saturday with a call for better ties with rival South Korea, warning that war “will bring nothing but a nuclear holocaust.”

Despite calls in its annual New Year’s message for a Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons, the communist North, which has conducted two nuclear tests since 2006, also said its military is ready for “prompt, merciless and annihilatory action” against its enemies.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the North, said the editorial carried in the official Korean Central News Agency, even with its tough rhetoric, showed the North’s interest in resuming talks with the South.

The annual holiday message is scrutinized by officials and analysts in neighboring countries for policy clues. This year, it received special attention after the North’s Nov. 23 artillery shelling of a South Korean island near the countries’ disputed western sea border, the first attack on a civilian area since the 1950-53 Korean War.

That barrage, which followed an alleged North Korean torpedoing of a South Korean warship in March, sent tensions between the Koreas soaring and fueled fears of war during the last weeks of 2010.

In South Korea, President Lee Myung-bak, dressed in traditional Korean clothes, said in a televised New Year’s address he would work toward peace. “I am confident that we will be able to establish peace on the Korean peninsula and continue sustained economic growth,” he said.

Allow me to weigh in, please.  Horse crap!  Is that clear enough?  Having weaponized Uranium or Plutonium isn’t the same thing as having it in a purity that supports successful nuclear weapons, and having sufficient purity isn’t the same thing as having it miniturized in order to deliver it, and having missiles, even ICBMs, isn’t the same thing as having a successful delivery program for nuclear weapons even if they are miniturized.  North Korea still must develop their program to truly be a threat to the U.S.  They aren’t a problem just yet.

However, given enough South Korean sunshine diplomacy and pretending that the Peninsula will one day unify under a democratic government, or pretending that the North Korean dictators – including the military dictators – want openness, and given enough hand-wringing in the U.S., or conversely, enough chuckling about “that crazy old dictator,” and given enough time, they will be a problem.

They will miniturize their weapons, attain sufficient purity, and test enough weapons delivery systems, that they will be a threat not only to South Korea but the West Coast of the U.S. as well.  So how long will be play their game?  Until it’s too late?

Total war isn’t the answer, but neither is U.S. aid to keep their population from starving.  In the end, just like water, everything seeks its own level, and keeping the regime alive only prolongs the problem and postpones the day of reckoning for North Korea.

How did that Sunshine Diplomacy thing work out?

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 3 months ago

Well, by now it’s old news that the first botched attempt at a North Korean nuclear weapon has retreated in our consciousness in the face of a new threat.  They have succeeded in developing a real weapon.  There has already been and will continue to be worldwide denunciations, but in the end, nothing will be done about it, at least, nothing that has any affect on the North Korean regime.

Now consider the Iranian regime and its recent claims in light of this example.

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday rejected a Western proposal for it to “freeze” its nuclear work in return for no new sanctions and ruled out any talks with major powers on the issue.

The comments by the conservative president, who is seeking a second term in a June 12 election, are likely to further disappoint the U.S. administration of President Barack Obama, which is seeking to engage Iran diplomatically.

The United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain said in April they would invite Iran to a meeting to try and find a diplomatic solution to the nuclear row …

“Our talks (with major powers) will only be in the framework of cooperation for managing global issues and nothing else. We have clearly announced this,” Ahmadinejad said.

The nuclear issue is a finished issue for us,” he told a news conference.

One is tempted to ask South Korea how that sunshine diplomacy thing has worked out, but sniping and sarcasm aside, the example is valuable.  From the perspective of Benjamin Netanyahu, after having watched negotiations fail in bringing North Korea to its ideological knees for so long, and after having watch a botched attempt become the forerunner of a successful nuclear test, what option does Israel have except to prepare to defend itself with the governments of the world continuing to advocate the same approach that failed in the Far East?  Nothing will be done to turn Iran away from its pursuit of nuclear weapons, and so the clock is ticking for Israel.  We’ve heard this song before.

SECDEF Gates Loses Intelligence-Gathering Opportunity?

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 5 months ago

With the (then) upcoming North Korean missile launch, I had settled on the idea that the U.S. would shoot the missile out of the sky.  This position quickly evaporated into one of watching Japan shoot the missile out of the sky.  With some thought, I landed on the notion that Japan doesn’t have reliable enough systems to ensure success, and so attempt and failure would no doubt be an intelligence boon for North Korea.

No, over time my position evolved to one of no attempt at a shoot-down, just high quality intelligence-gathering.  We’d pull a Sun Tzu on them – they wouldn’t get to see our capabilities, but we’d see all of theirs.  If they’re willing to show us their capabilities, then we should collect data – and lot’s of it.  It was the most sensible position to take, and I was sure that the Pentagon would follow this line of thinking.

Not so, apparently.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates denied permission for the U.S. Northern Command to use the Pentagon’s most powerful sea-based radar to monitor North Korea’s recent missile launch, precluding officials from collecting finely detailed launch data or testing the radar in a real-time crisis, current and former defense officials said.

Jamie Graybeal, Northcom public affairs director, confirmed to The Washington Times that Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart, the Northcom commander, requested the radar’s use but referred all other questions to the Pentagon.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Mr. Gates’ decision not to use the $900 million radar, known as SBX, was “based on the fact that there were numerous ground- and sea-based radars and sensors in the region to support the operational requirements for this launch.”

SBX, deployed in 2005, can track and identify warheads, decoys and debris in space with very high precision. Officials said the radar is so powerful it could detect a baseball hit out of a ballpark from more than 3,000 miles away, and that other radars used by the U.S. would not be able to provide the same level of detail about North Korea’s missile capabilities.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, who until recently headed the Missile Defense Agency, said the SBX would have gathered data other U.S. systems could not.

“The sea-based X-band radar is clearly without a doubt the most powerful and capable sensor in all of our missile defense inventory,” he said. “It is three or four more times powerful than other radars” in Asia, including Aegis-equipped ships, a Cobra Dane early warning radar in Alaska and a small X-band radar in northern Japan, he said.

Gen. Obering noted that the SBX was used by the U.S. Strategic Command to track a falling satellite and guide U.S. sea-based missile interceptors that destroyed it in February 2008.

There are several potential reasons for this decision that have been floated.

One current and two former specialists in strategic defenses said the administration rejected the request because it feared that moving the huge floating radar system would be viewed by North Korea as provocative and upset diplomatic efforts aimed at restarting six-nation nuclear talks …

Obama administration civilian policymakers accepted North Korea’s claim that the rocket spotted by intelligence satellites being fueled at North Korea’s Musudan launch complex was a space launcher with a satellite, and not a missile, the official said. He spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he was discussing internal deliberations.

In the end, the missile failed to put a satellite into orbit, although the missile traveled farther than in previous North Korean tests.

Former defense officials said the failure to use the SBX precluded the U.S. from gathering finely detailed intelligence and electronic signatures on the North Korean missile – information that could be useful in guarding against a future rocket launch aimed at the United States or one its allies.

Regardless of whether it was a missile or space launcher, “the technologies that overlap between a ballistic missile and a space launcher are incredible; everything you need for a ballistic missile can be tested out with a space launcher,” one of the former defense officials said, speaking only on the condition of anonymity because the information he possesses about the SBX’s capabilities is not public.

The first potential justification for this decision is that it would be seen as provocative.  We’ll come back to that in a moment.  The second potential justification is that the technology was associated with a satellite launch.  This is of course irrelevant, since the North Koreans are attempting to perfect missile technology, whether the technology is used for satellites or warheads.  The Obama administration had no chance of this justification passing muster, since the launch was a test.  The circumstances surrounding the test have nothing whatsoever to do with how the technology might be used in the future.

Let’s continue with the next excuse.

The SBX radar, built on a large floating oil rig platform and normally based at the remote western Aleutian island of Adak, about 1,200 miles southwest of Anchorage, was undergoing maintenance in Hawaii in early March.

The senior military official involved in continental missile defense said it would have required suspending the work to get the SBX sailing “so we asked [for it to be moved] pretty early, and preparations were begun.”

“As it became more clear that this was a space launch attempt and SBX would not have added any to the capabilities we needed to monitor a space launch, we canceled our request to allow refit to continue on timeline,” the senior official said.

Nice try, but again, that dog won’t hunt.  One cannot say ahead of time what data might be required after the fact to properly assess performance.  Ask any test engineer how precise he would like the test data, and you’ll get the answer “as precise as we can get it” every time.  This senior official has offered an uncompelling excuse for utilizing what is arguably the most suitable technology for the situation.  If not now, then when would the technology be used?

Finally, the worst excuse floats to the top.

Philip Coyle, a former Pentagon weapons testing specialist who has been critical of missile defense testing, said the SBX is technically a better radar than any system in Japan.

However, Mr. Coyle said one problem with the radar is that its resolution is so fine it needs to be “cued,” or directed where to look. That may be a reason it was not deployed, he said.

“Both the [Government Accountability Office] and my former office have questioned whether this radar can survive the maritime environment,” said Mr. Coyle, now with the Center for Defense Information.

Oh good grief.  They should have stopped with just poor instead of ending up with ridiculous.  Now they look like they’re just making stuff up.  If you want to know if the system can “survive the maritime environment,” just ask the weapons design and testing engineers.  The GAO won’t know something that they don’t.  If the engineers don’t know, then this presents yet another unmatched opportunity to test our own systems real time and in a live environment.  Who knows when the North Koreans will launch another missile?

In short, the most plausible reason for this decision is the first, i.e., that a huge floating radar system would have been “provocative.”  Thus we’ve missed a once in a blue moon opportunity for valuable intelligence-gathering.

Whether Gates supported this decision behind closed doors is not known.  But one is left to wonder, would he have made the same decision while working for the previous administration?

2nd Infantry Division Deploys to Iraq – No, Not Really!

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 6 months ago

GI Korea at ROK Drop writes to tell us of the “delays” in redeployment of 2ID in Korea.  Drop by and read his post until it makes you rather sick.

Okay somebody give me a Hanchongnyun head band:

A proposed southward relocation of U.S. frontline troops in South Korea will be delayed for about one to two years, a government source said Sunday. The envisioned relocation of the 2nd Infantry Division of the U.S. forces in Korea (USFK) slated to be completed by 2013 will be put off because of financing problems, the government source said. [Yonhap]

Financing problems?  The Korean government has enough money to build a canal across the country and ship over a billion dollars a year to North Korea, but they don’t have enough money to move soldiers from 2ID to Camp Humphreys until 2015?  The prior agreed upon 2013 deadline was just a little over a year ago agreed upon to be pushed back fours years from the earlier agreed upon 2009 timeframe.  Which by the way was a unilaterally decided on delay by the Korean government which quickly pounced on the opportunity to cut funding and renege on the deal when the prior US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld resigned. 

This delay is also being done in coordination with delay efforts to stop the hand over of war time operational control from the US military to the Korean military.  Does anyone also think it is a coincidence that United States Forces Korea (USFK) commander General B.B. Bell was forced to retire because of his advocacy for maintaining the relocation plan along with the transfer of operation control?  The Korean government has long been at odds with General Bell and now with him out of the way they are free to begin their delay games with the USFK relocation plan. 

Even more suspicious is the timing of this announcement.  This announcement was released by the Korean government’s official news agency Yonhap, late on a Sunday right before new Korean president Lee Myung-bak’s big inauguration ceremony on Monday so the local papers will hardly pick up on the 2ID delay story.   

This is just more evidence that despite all the Yankee Go Home rhetoric in South Korea the truth of the matter is as the by line of this blog states, is to keep the USFK gravy train rolling along in Korea.  The Korean government has never wanted to allow the USFK relocation to Camp Humphreys just like they have never really wanted to take operational control from USFK either.

The redeployment plan was never bold enough.  If Rumsfeld (and now Gates) couldn’t be mean enough, they can turn the decision over to me; I have no problems with meanness.  Here is my plan.  2ID deploys to Iraq – where there is actually a counterinsurgency campaign going on as we speak – and this redeployment happens as fast as the aircraft can fly.

Ah, the logistics officers object!  But you have no FOB or combat outposts into which they can deploy!  You aren’t ready for them.  Well, the surge can be extended by deployment of the 2ID, and troops who have been in Iraq for 15 months can come home.  The FOBs and COPs they leave can be used by 2ID.  Or, the 2ID can pitch tents and provide force protection for a while.  After all, they are infantry, aren’t they?

Again the logistics officers object, “you just want the 2ID in theater as fast as possible to get them into the fight!”  Yes, I have been found out.  After redeployment of 2ID into an actual fight, South Korea can ponder whether they wish to continue their ridiculous “sunshine diplomacy” with North Korea.  Then, our international welfare to South Korea (who is completely capable of defending herself) can come to an end, and we can take the global war on terror seriously.

**** UPDATE ****

Friend Grim at Blackfive responds:

I trust you probably know this, but 2ID is already in the rotation for Iraq.  Their 3rd BCT was in Baghdad last summer; 4th Stryker BCT is here now; and 5th(!) BCT is training to come.  Their HQ unit is in Korea, and some of their combat forces are always in Korea when they aren’t in Iraq, but 2ID is taking their fair turn out here.

Response: Yes, I know.  They are good troopers, and for that reason I just want to get them all into the fight and out of Korea where they are not contributing.  Call me romantic.


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