Don’t even think about it – TTG


Earlier this evening, Colonel Lang asked me a fairly simple question. “What would you say is the actual deployment ground force capability?”

Just from the top of my head, I gave the following response. “Since we're already committed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, I doubt we can muster any sizable package for Korea. Maybe a few light brigades, but a heavy force would be damned difficult. And a heavy force is what's needed. I'm sure the 25th Infantry would be sent there first as was always the plan. I hope they bring plenty of shovels. They'll need them.”

I was in the 25th Infantry Division in the late ‘70s. Reinforcing Korea was our number one mission. To prepare we practiced strongpoint defense, withdrawal under pressure and breakout from encirclement. We carried more than our normal compliment of picks and shovels as we knew the holes we dug would save our lives. That’s what we anticipated… a forlorn hope. 

A quick Google search confirmed my pessimism. The 2nd Infantry Division only has one armored brigade in country along with two MLRS battalions. The division’s two Stryker brigades are stationed at Fort Lewis. So just getting the 2nd to fighting strength requires the deployment of these two brigades across the Pacific along with their Strykers.


But the question of how fast we can move ground forces into Korea is moot. Take a good look at this chart. A ground war in Korea would be a war among Koreans. The ROK Army has over 600,000 active duty troops, around 5,000 tanks and AFVs and close to 8,000 pieces of towed artillery, self-propelled artillery and MLRS. Our troops would never amount to more than a drop in the bucket. No, don’t even think about that option.


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39 Responses to Don’t even think about it – TTG

  1. LondonBob says:

    No doubt the Koreans are a smart and tough people but I suspect the NK army exists only on paper. Weapons that don’t work, under supplied and with a lack of will to fight. I would expect the drive for an effective nuclear deterrent is reflective of this.

  2. Fredw says:

    So the relevant forces are ROK, not US. Do the readers of SST have relevant knowledge about them. Everybody I read seems to assume that they are a passive tool of the US. Is that accurate? Do we even know what is their analysis of the situation? All the analysis I see is US-centric.

  3. Fredw says:

    With respect to US-centric analysis, I saw a version of this game play out in Vietnam. As an interrogator, I spent half my waking hours in Vietnamese and the other half in English. It was like being in two different wars at the same time. I didn’t find any secret key to decoding it all. (I was a 23-year old kid.) But I did learn that projecting your own logic on to people from a different culture is a bad idea. However compelling your breakdown of the prossibilities might seem, you need an understanding of other people’s perceptions and values to have any chance of predicting their behavior.

  4. Roger Vose says:

    China said they will step in and defend North Korea if North Korea is attacked first. They also said they will stand by if North Korea attacks first. I’m pretty sure China would start a major military buildup if they saw evidence of a serious U.S./South Korea military buildup. I don’t believe Russia would sit by with the U.S. conducting military operations on its border.
    It’s bat-sh!t crazy to even consider this kind of stuff as the American empire is in descent.

  5. BillWade says:

    All things being equal, let’s say a 60 day limited edition war, I doubt that any European military force could defeat the South Koreans.

  6. Lars says:

    This is one of the problems with speaking loudly and carrying a small stick. Of course, having reality intrude into the White House will probably not happen. Hopefully, some of “his” generals, who are able to add, will keep a lid on ignorance.

  7. Morongobill says:

    I doubt very much that the U.S. officer corps seriously believe that the North Koreans are a pushover. I sure don’t get that feeling from watching General Mattis on tv.
    We bombed them almost into oblivion during the Korean War and they didn’t give up, I doubt they will now either. It’s their home, they got nothing else.
    Seems to me that he who can bring the most troops and weapons to bear with the shortest supply lines might be in a pretty good spot when push comes to shove. We ain’t got that many evidently.
    But as the song goes, if the boys want to fight, you’d better let them. I just think it should be the locals.

  8. Dear Bill,
    I’m afraid the war will last 20 minutes…….. possibly 2 hours….
    It will take 20 mins for the DPRK missile fussilade to hit their targets ( guam, Yokohama, Okinawa, Tokyo, Seoul, Pearl, Seattle, Anchorage, San Fran, Long Beach, Hanford)
    and from 1 – 2 hours for the US response to arrive in the DPRK. Depending on how it is launched. Minuteman……. Trident…….. Bombers………
    How will Russia / China know that US missiles are not targeting them?
    They won’t until it’s too late to stop their response…………..3000 warheads ….
    targeting CONUS/ NATO.
    The Russians did something very smart……….. they invited the DPRK to Vladivostok to
    the economic forum…. talked to them……….
    Discovered the DPRK believes their only choice is whether they die killing americans in CONUS or die through strangulation…….
    They intend to rain fire and brimstone on CONUS……

  9. MRW says:

    No doubt the Koreans are a smart and tough people but I suspect the NK army exists only on paper.

    Not true. Every male in the country of a certain age is conscripted to be part of the army, including the agricultural workers, which is where Kim Jung-Un needs them to be to plant the rice (April) and bring in the harvest (August). Even the soldiers are charged with helping out during these times.
    Their army is a million+ strong.
    Every Korean over the age of 60 remembers the Korean War, the devastation, the massive hunger…it’s a visceral memory. China knows this history. So does Russia. The US firebombing of North Korea was so intense it sickened Gen. MacArthur. He said he vomited at the devastation and death. After Truman relieved him of his duty in 1951, Gen. MacArthur appeared before Congress, he warned, “If you go on indefinitely, you are perpetuating a slaughter such as I have never heard of in the history of mankind.”
    Read b of moonofalabama’s excellent account of this from last April. You may not agree with it but it’s a POV that few Americans could be bothered to know about. Be sure to scroll down to see a copy of the page from “Napalm: An American Biography” by Robert M. Neer, Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2013 that describes MacArthur’s appearance before Congress.
    Why North Korea Needs Nukes – And How To End That

  10. JJackson says:

    TTG – Are Stryker Brigades a suitable tool for this theater? In Syria I could see them being very useful but this seems more likely to be a slug-fest.

  11. JJackson,
    You’re right. This would be a slug-fest. I would think anyone in theater would rather have the protection and firepower of full armored/mech brigades especially with active defense systems like the Russian Shtora. Lacking that, the Stryker is still better than the LPCs (leather personnel carriers) that we had. Our only armor was our steel pots and our ability to dig fast.

  12. BillWade says:

    We can all believe what we think is true. My opinion again, NK’s “Ace in the Hole” is their extremely formidable artillery and armed forces on the edge of the DMZ. They would be able to kill a million plus civilians in the first 24 hours. After 72 hours that capability will be gone, zero-zilch. That only leaves them with their supposed nuke capability.
    I have no idea of their nuclear war capabilities, they do seem to be mostly in the very beginning stages of a program, at least that is what I see on the TV news.
    I have not begun building my “fallout shelter”.

  13. SteveH says:

    I’ve no military background, but back in the day I did spend a lot of time working with Koreans in a commercial JV and had plenty of access to the US Army base at Yongsan. Nothing that I saw or experienced left me with the impression that Koreans are by nature either passive or anybody else’s tools. Quite the reverse.

  14. mike says:

    TTG –
    US warships and aircraft have active EO jammers. Why not on Strykers? Are there none on the M1?

  15. LondonBob says:

    On paper was the wrong term, perhaps combat effective would be better. Your malnourished, disillusioned, very poorly equipped North Korean conscript won’t be fighting and dying with enthusiasm for the little fat kid against his fellow Korean. Sixty years is a long time ago and they have been living through worse. To paraphrase Cromwell they would not know what they fight for, and hate what they do know.
    The issue would be the damage they could do to Seoul and defending fortified positions on the DMZ in the initial stages, after that it would be a case of rounding up the prisoners and managing the logistics of how to look after them and the civilian populace.

  16. mike,
    From a brief search I did earlier, I don’t think our armor has Shtora-like systems installed yet. There are plans to do so on the next upgrades of all armored vehicles. Maybe somebody with recent experience can give a better answer than this.

  17. mike says:

    TTG –
    Thanks for the link. The Trophy APS system the link mentions appears to be only kinetic with no dazzlers or IR jammers that is incorporated in Shtora. That is a mistake in my IMHO. We have that technology, have had it for many decades.

  18. paul says:

    @londonbob and everyone in general
    is there any real evidence to the current living conditions of North Koreans, by rank occupation etc, seems like they are doing better that a significant part of the world. just going by the basic indicators, i mean if their army is starving the people must be skeletons and this whole thing must have collapsed a long time ago.
    and just to drift in to ideology a bit, if you consider all the strengths and weaknesses of communism/socialism. the one situation were it does work better than all others has historical been the seige. a small cohesive defensible territory, with a culturally and ethnically homogeneous group of people faced with an overwhelming power.
    we may laugh and scoff at there backwardness, but under the conditions after 60 years id expect them to have learned how to feed themselves at the very least.
    all this is conjecture. i have read all kinds of things on north korea ranging from its pure hell on earth with universal starvation torture and misery, too they are a completely self sufficient utopian paradise, and have never really be able to make heads or tails of anyof it.
    p.s. i knew a professor who had taught in east germany and spent some time in north korea(he was ahard core communist) and from what he told me about it i at the very least tend to lean towards they have goten the basics of modern necessities down and are not going to bow down when a soldier waves a slice of bread in their faces.
    nor will they let an invading army take over without resistance.

  19. Mark Logan says:

    A little off topic, but this issue appears to be a splendid opportunity to improve our anti-missile technology.
    I believe it likely we will have to welcome the PDRK to the nuclear “club”, the genie has been slow to exit his bottle but he will come out. There will be more members.
    The Plan: In order to dodge the treaty issues bury most of the research in a mostly honest attempt to develop an anti-asteroid missile system, something even Mother Earth herself will heartily support. The prevailing “wisdom” that it may do more damage to have a bunch of smaller asteroids than one big one can be discredited, it may indeed be BS, as the more surface area the quicker things burn and one big rock has less surface area than an equal mass of smaller rocks.
    Just a thought.

  20. MRW says:

    Sixty years is a long time ago and they have been living through worse. To paraphrase Cromwell they would not know what they fight for, and hate what they do know.

    60 years is a long time?
    Every year the on May 9th, the Russians by the millions throughout the country walk through the streets carrying photos of their family members who died in WWII. That includes Putin, linked arm in arm with fellow citizens carrying a photo the size of his upper body of his father.
    It’s a sombre day—or as Putin described it, “sacred”—not one where their leaders place wreaths on memorial statues, give speeches, then go out for dinner or watch a game.
    Koreans lost a million people, General LeMay told Congress, and several millions more were left homeless with nowhere to live or eat. North Korean isn’t tropical, their winters are brutal.
    General LeMay said there were only two buildings left standing in Pyongyang, a city of 500,000 people, after we bombed them. The rest totaled. The countryside wiped out.
    You only have to talk to Koreans who grew up after that period to know what they went through to eat. How ramen was a feast because that’s all they could afford. Noodles in a spicy broth that even today Korean university students will tell you ramen with a Kraft cheese slice is dinner luxury. What Japan did to the Koreans and Chinese during WWII is another unknown story, a brutal unspeakable story that made Hitler look like a boy scout..
    None of us in this country know the sacrifices that the Russians, Koreans, and Chinese in Nanking and Singapore went through. I know because I’ve listened to those who did, the older people who lived through it. I spent eight years traveling to Asia and heard these stories first hand, what they actually went through. Hell, London Bob, Jews still mewl about Masada 2000 years ago, and how many Holocaust Museums are there now?

  21. Castellio says:

    Odd, LondonBob. You seem to think that the North Koreans think of their country and their government the same way the western media presents their country and their government.

  22. Thirdeye says:

    Bottom line, whichever army goes on offense loses. The peninsula is mostly defensive terrain where massed offensive formations become extremely vulnerable, especially in the face of air superiority. KWII figures to be a repeat of the later days of KWI, only with much greater human and economic cost.
    @Londonbob: There’s no shortage of cultish zeal on the part of the North Koreans to propel human wave assaults in the same manner as seen from the Chinese PLA in 1952-53. The good, relatively speaking, news is that such assaults would likely have a similar result.
    The total force numbers on the DPRK side are on the soft side, since under the military first policy the way to get priority for your project is to sell it as a military project. IOW, a lot of what DPRK counts as military is fulfilling civilian functions.

  23. raven says:

    A 23 year old kid!!! I was two months short of my 19th when I came home. Dudes like you were considered ancient!

  24. LeaNder says:

    noticed this too following some randomly ‘jokers’, activists et al elsewhere. My favorite went silent it seems. Here’s a headline by a ‘mysterious’ guy I met in that context.
    Well, yes, admittedly via an Iranian news agency.
    Another link, this time a pdf, by one who might well be suspect to be a left wing ideologue around here. Power elites in the age of Trump.

  25. Imagine says:

    I believe NK conscripts females as well, as does Israel.

  26. Imagine says:

    NK is hierarchical Confucian society w reflexes inherited from Imperial Japan, will obey orders. NK’s will die fighting to protect their homeland just as Americans would. NKs believe SK to be puppet tool of Evil Empire(tm) and so will have no problem killing SKs, see history. IMHO.

  27. VietnamVet says:

    I don’t see how a conventional war will start.
    South and North Koreans will die fighting to protect their homes. Seoul would be destroyed and the global economy stricken. Both Koreas have super power support. We forget but the Greatest Generation hated being call back to fight a “police action”. The victors in WWII could only get a draw.
    The real problem is the crazies in the basement. If the USA strikes first to prevent targeting of LA with Korean ICBMs, a conventional attack must be so perfect that it immediately decapitates the regime and destroys each and every nuclear weapon. Impossible. Only a nuclear strike will do this. China will enter the war and it is all over for every major USA city not to mention China, Russia and the rest of the World.

  28. turcopolier says:

    “The victors in WWII could only get a draw.” What the hell are you talking about? I lived in Germany just after WW2 and there was no doubt about who lost. pl

  29. VietnamVet says:

    The Korean war that WWII vets and conscripts fought ended in a cease fire along the 38th parallel north. A draw not a victory.

  30. BillWade says:

    I don’t know but am sure our government knows how far along NKs nuclear capabilities are. Supposing their capabilities aren’t much to speak of, if they attack first on the DMZ we’ll have to respond quickly & decisively with the goal being to end it damn fast.
    LondonBob: I would expect NK’s soldiers to be well fed, trained, motivated and ready; to think otherwise is mistaken.

  31. turcopolier says:

    Bill Wade
    “I don’t know but am sure our government knows…” If you don’t know, how are you sure? Religious belief? Too man spy books? pl

  32. turcopolier says:

    Yes, Korea was a draw but your quotation grammatically spoke of WW2. BTW there were a lot of people in the Korean War who were not WW2 vets or draftees. pl

  33. Kooshy says:

    No surprise there, that is very common in west, mostly because of 24/7 western media mind makers. IMO due to historic reason of not trusting government propaganda outlets less advanced wealthy countries are more logical assessing their countries capabilities, and more savvy to distinguish between state propaganda and real facts.

  34. VietnamVet says:

    I apologize for my English. Old Age and I never had your skill at writing. My memory is very selective. The Korean Vets I met fell into two classes, those who served in both wars or like Vietnam were drafted or enlisted because of the draft.
    Bill Wade
    I would think, because of the threat of attack, North Korea would at least keep one nuclear bomb for every one tested. That is at least six metropolises they could destroyed. All it takes is one. As William Polk so clearly explained, it is impossible for a national leader not to retaliate for the destruction of a major city.

  35. BillWade says:

    Maybe I said it on the other thread, from the TV I have been told they have launched a few missiles and have tested one smallish and one largish nuclear bomb. I would guess that is a fledgling program.
    My faith is in out Intel agencies. I don’t know what they know but I HOPE they know the where the NK nuke program is and how capable it is.

  36. mike says:

    Pacifica Advocate –
    As I recall the peak of the NorKo famine was before I retired, sometime in the mid 90s. Supposedly caused by the shutdown of cheap subsidized imports of food and fuel from the Soviets when they collapsed in the early 90s. Millions died, maybe not as many as the ROKs claimed, but an order of magnitude more than what the NorKo propaganda was saying.

  37. J says:

    TTG, Colonel,
    It was just too painful to watch, the ignorance of our young regarding N. Korea and world geography in general. I was watching the Russian news program Вести and on it was the perspective of N. Korean leadership (both current and past) through the eyes of a retired Russian diplomat who dealt directly with the current N. Korean leader’s grandfather and father when they were running the N. Korean head-shed. The painful part was our nation’s young being interviewed on the street by Russian TV as to where N. Korea was on a map, and to the painful picture that our nation’s young representation had no clue where the Korea’s were. An OMG moment for sure.

  38. Will.2718 says:

    oh Leander. google or wikipedia is your freund
    Petras is a sociologist at one of NYU branches or at least used to be.
    I have read one of his books and it is excellent.
    The Power of Israel in the United States, Clarity Press, Inc. (2006). ISBN 0-932863-51-5
    As usual, anybody that criticizes the Borg is labeled an “anti-semite,” or a “new-anti-semite.”
    I saw coming this even before i read it in one of his books. Part of the plan to sow chaos and de-industrialize MENA for the sake of Settler Israel and the medieval Kingdom of Saudi Barbaria/Wahhabi Gulfies. Morgenthau plan implemented on Irak-Syria as once proposed for Deutschland.
    “Petras has referred to American policy towards Iraq as “The US/Iraqi Holocaust (UIH)” which he describes as “an ongoing process spanning the last 16 years (1990-2006) provides us with a striking example of state-planned systematic extermination, torture and physical destruction designed to de-modernize a secular developing society and revert it into a series of warring clan-tribal-clerical-ethnic based entities devoid of any national authority or viable economy.”” from the wiki bio

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