KPA going guerilla

According to Blaine Harden in the Washington Post (excerpts):

North Korea has massively increased its special operations forces, schooled them in the use of Iraqi-style roadside bombs and equipped them to sneak past the heavily fortified border that divides the two Koreas.

In a conflict, tens of thousands of special forces members would try to infiltrate South Korea: by air in radar-evading biplanes, by ground through secret tunnels beneath the demilitarized zone (DMZ), and by sea aboard midget submarines and hovercraft, according to South Korean and U.S. military analysts.

Their primary mission, in the event of war, is to leapfrog the DMZ and create chaos among the 20.5 million residents of greater Seoul, while harassing South Korean and U.S. forces in rear areas, military and intelligence experts said.

South Korea and the United States agree that the number of North Korean special forces is rising, but they disagree on how much.

The number is now 180,000, according to the South Korean Defense Ministry. That’s a 50 percent increase since the South’s last official count three years ago. But Sharp, the U.S. commander here, puts the number at 80,000 (although that still dwarfs the special forces of any country, including the United States, which has about 51,000.)

Much of the difference appears to be a dispute over the definition of special forces. North Korea has retrained and reconfigured about 60,000 infantry troops as special forces in the past three years, South Korea says. The United States agrees that this reconfiguring has occurred, but it “does not count [retrained infantry] as special forces,” according to Maj. Todd Fleming, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Korea.

Whatever the number, there is widespread agreement that the North’s special forces are increasingly formidable. Sharp describes them as “tough, well-trained and profoundly loyal,” while being capable of illicit activities, strategic reconnaissance and attacks against civilian infrastructure and military targets across Northeast Asia.

But the capacity of North Korea to protect and maintain that frontline armor has declined since the 1990s. Flight hours for the North’s military aircraft have plummeted for lack of fuel, as has training of mechanized ground forces.

North Korea has also begun to question the utility of the tanks and armor it can afford at the front, after seeing the ease with which U.S. precision weapons shredded Saddam Hussein’s armored forces in Iraq, according to a South Korean Defense Ministry report.

“They were really shocked watching how the Americans destroyed Iraq’s tanks,” said Kim, the military affairs editor.

What North Korea still has in extraordinary abundance are boots on the ground, thanks to universal conscription and a mandatory 10 years of military service for men, seven years for women.

“The North Koreans made a decision based on the resources they have,” said Kwon Young-hae, a former director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service. “The best way for them to counterbalance the South’s technological advantage is with special forces. When Kim Jong Il gives pep talks to these troops, he says, ‘You are individually, one by one, like nuclear weapons.’ “

The full article is worth reading here.

I  cant help but see the Iranian government involved in this, but that is entirely speculative.

And a personal aside—I recommend that everyone (including Americans) visit Iran.  Despite the reputation of the Iranian government in the west, the country is one of the friendliest and most beautiful places I have been fortunate enough to visit. My only regret with regards to my trip there is that I could not spend more time enjoying the company of her beautiful people.

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One Response to “KPA going guerilla”

  1. […] Is Iran helping the North Koreans go guerrilla? […]