Saturday, March 3, 2018

North Korea's Nuclear Talks with South Korea US Combined Training Prospects

I did a Voice of America talk show yesterday with Frank Jannuzi for broadcast into north Korea (and it is shown in South Korea as well). (It is in English with Korean subtitles).

I think the title should be North Korea's Nuclear Talks with South Korea US Combined Training Prospects.  I think this went from English to Korean and back to English.

The 20 minute video can be viewed here.

Washington tackles a weekly analysis of North Korean hot issues with Washington experts. This week, we will evaluate the role of Korea as a "dialogue partner" between the US and North Korea on the occasion of the PyeongChang Olympics, and look at the implications of the US union training, which is expected to resume next month. Progress: Jo Eun Jung. Daring: Frank Jannuzi (President of Mansfield Foundation), David Maxwell (ICAS Senior Researcher, Korea Institute for National Unification)

N. Korea issues warning over U.S. military provocations

We should remember that north Korea considers the ROK/US Combined Forces Command exercises a provocation while north Korea conducts provocations that includes shelling civilian and military personnel on islands and murdering 46 South Korean sailors when it sank the Cheonan.

north Korean propaganda has pundits, progressives (in the ROK) and the press (and those who sympathize with north Korea) calling for another postponement or even cancellation or a at least a reduction or scaling back of the upcoming exercises.  But we should ask ourselves objectively what do we think we will get from north Korea if we postpone, cancel, or scale back the exercises?  What do these people think the north will do in return?

  • Will the north end its provocations to gain political and economic concessions?
  • Will it end its winter and summer training cycles?
  • Will it withdraw the thousands of artillery and rocket systems along the DMZ?
  • Will it cease its infiltration of spies and SOF into the South?
  • Will it cease its unification campaign using subversion, coercion, and if necessary force?
  • Will it end seeking to split the ROK/US Alliance?
  • Will it ends its global illicit activities (counterfeiting, drug trafficking, use of slave labor)?
  • Will it end its proliferation activities around the world?
  • Will it end its WMD cooperation with Syria and Iran?
  • Will it end its human rights violations and crimes against humanity?
  • Will it come to the negotiating table?
  • Will it pledge to denuclearize?
  • Will it denuclearize?

Does anyone think that postponement, cancellation or scaling back of the exercises will result in a reduction in tensions?

The only thing we will see happen if we postpone, cancel, scale back the exercises is that the regime will shift fires to new propaganda targets and continue all of the above.  The only thing we will get in return for postponing the exercises are:

  • A reduction in ROK/US military readiness.
  • A reduction in ROK/US deterrent capabilities.
  • More emboldened north Korean propaganda as it will deem cancellation a success (and it will still focus on the exercises even if we scale it back to a one platoon, one aircraft, and one ship exercise)
  • More demands on the ROK/US alliance that will not be reciprocated by the regime.

And of course all of the above is not all inclusive, the north will think of many more ways to benefit from our decision to cancel the exercises.

We should remember that the reason for the exercises is due to the stated and demonstrated threat to the very existence of our blood ally the Republic of Korea.

The bottom line is that we will get nothing in return for postponement or cancellation of the exercises. Some might feel good about doing it in the misguided idea that it will somehow change north Korean behavior and reduce tensions but I believe that they could not be more wrong.

N. Korea issues warning over U.S. military provocations

SEOUL, March 3 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's representative told the United Nations-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva last month that Pyongyang stands ready to fight back against any military provocation from the United States, the North's official media reported Saturday.
The Korean Central News Agency quoted the North's representative to the U.N. office in Geneva as telling the plenary meeting of the U.N. disarmament conference on Tuesday that it is a legitimate right of a sovereign state to take measures to increase its national defense capability for coping with outside threats.
"(North Korea) was compelled to possess a nuclear deterrent in order to protect its sovereignty and the security of its nation from the harsh hostile policy and nuclear threat of the U.S. that have persisted for years," the unidentified representative was quoted as saying in English.
"However, the hostile forces led by the U.S. labeled the exercise of this legitimate right as a 'threat to global peace' and misused the voting mechanism of the U.N. Security Council to cook up several 'sanctions resolutions' in an attempt to deprive the DPRK of its self-defensive right." The DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.
The North's representative then accused the U.S. of "amassing huge strategic assets in and around the Korean Peninsula, and mulling staging joint military exercises aimed at a pre-emptive nuclear attack on North Korea."
"In order to defend itself from such threats, the DPRK had access to nuclear weapons, treasured sword of justice. As we have stated on numerous occasions, we will consider any type of blockade as an act of war against us, and if the U.S. has indeed the guts to confront us in any 'rough' manner, we will not (hesitate) to respond to it," the representative said.
A Reuters photo taken Feb. 27, 2018, shows Han Tae-song, North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, speaking at the U.N.-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.Photo by: Yonhap

Friday, February 23, 2018

Congressional Statement for the Record (Korea) from Commander, (CINC) UNC/CFC/USFK

I missed this when it came out on February 14.

I recommend reading this for a good understanding of the military situation in Korea. Usually these statements are a formality but given the situation in Korea this 16 page statement is worth reading.  There is some important information. 

I would like to highlight one excerpt on the Conditions-based OPCON transition plan.  Note that the new combined command will have a Korean Commander and US Deputy Commander.  Just as currently is done the command will continue to operate under the bilateral guidance of both Presidents (or their delegates - I assume the Military Committee will remain to exercise oversight and provide the guidance).  Note also the statement that US forces will continue to operate under US national authorities just as they do now and just as the ROK military forces currently do and will continue to do.  The bottom line is there is no sovereignty issue for the US just as their is not now for Korea.  And just as a reminder Korean forces provide by the ROK JCS to the ROK/US Combined Forces Command have never been under "US Command."

e. Conditions-based OPCON Transition Plan (COTP). The Alliance has made significant progress in setting the conditions for the future combined command. The command will continue to operate under the bilateral guidance of the Presidents of the United States and South Korea or their delegates. After this transition, a U.S. general officer will change roles to serve as the Deputy Commander of the future combined command and remain as commander of the UNC and USFK. U.S. forces will continue to operate under U.S. national authorities. The Alliance is prepared to accelerate OPCON transition as South Korea continues to develop and acquire the critical capabilities required for the Alliance’s wartime success. The OPCON transition process must proceed in a way that strengthens deterrence against North Korea and enhances our combined capabilities. 

The ROK Minister of Defense and U.S. Secretary of Defense pledged in October 2017 to make joint efforts to implement the commitment by President Trump and President Moon in June 2017 to enable the expeditious conditions-based transfer of wartime OPCON. The Minister of Defense emphasized South Korea’s commitment to complete the preparations necessary to exercise OPCON in accordance with the signed COTP. The draft organization of the future combined command was discussed, and the Ministers decided to continue to refine the concept through combined exercises and certifications. They also committed to develop Alliance guiding principles for the further enhancement of combined defense posture post-OPCON transition. The two sides decided to reexamine the implementation plan for OPCON transition, such as the Alliance capability acquisition plan; Terms of Reference – Relationship (TOR-R) and Operation Plan; and combined exercises and certification plan. They also agreed to jointly review and update COTP by the 2018 SCM.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Special Warfare Magazine - Special Operations In the Pacific

For those with an interest in SOF in the Asia-Pacific Region the latest edition of Special Warfare Magazine from the US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School has about 90+ pages of articles.

06 | SOCPAC Overview and Map 
08 | In Depth: SOCPAC Commander 
11 | Asia Threat Overview 
15 | Remaining First in Asia 
20 | Tailoring Logistics Support 

22 Nepal Overview 
31 Maiti Nepal 
32 SOF Mountaineering and Training 
34 Mahabir Rangers 
40 Left of Zero: SOF Crisis Response 

44 Sri Lanka Overview 
54 Crisis Response: Floods and Landslides 
56 Flood Response 
58 | Photostory: India 

60 Operation Enduring Freedom 
62 Sustaining Partnerships 
64 Processing, Exploitation and Dissemination 
66 The Philippine Primer 

72 | Narrative Fusion Cell 
74 | Republic of Korea: Engagements that Last 

76 Photostory: Thailand 
78 SOF Roots in Thailand 
80 Cobra Gold 2017 

83 | Japan: Permanent Partners in the Pacific Rim 

84 | Effectiveness of a Forward-stationed Special Forces Battalion 

86 | Mongolian SOF 

88 | Photostory: Singapore 

90 | Maritime FID in Bangladesh

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

De Oppresso Liber

De Oppresso Liber (to free the oppressed). Or more appropriately to help the oppressed free themselves. Some day we will help the other 25 million Koreans living in the north to free themselves.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Why does the Kim Family Regime have nuclear weapons?

There are six purposes for the KFR’s nuclear weapons. 

The first is survival. We know from Hwang Jong Yop (1997) that the regime believes the US will not attack a nuclear armed nation but if there was a war on the Korean Peninsula they believes that if it did not have nuclear weapons that the US would use them on the north. So the first purpose is for survival. 

Second, nuclear weapons support its unification strategy which is three fold: subversion of the ROK, coercion of the ROK, and if necessary by force and nuclear weapons directly support the second two. And we should keep in mind that the KFR believes unification is key to its long term survival. 

The third is enhanced reputation and legitimacy - in the KFR mind nuclear weapons make it a power that should be treated like Pakistan and of course it is believed to enhance domestic political legitimacy the elite and with the people. 

Fourth they support the seven decade plus blackmail diplomacy strategy to conduct threats and provocations to gain political and economic concessions. 

Fifth similar to enhanced reputation it supports the regime’s “business” as a proliferator. It has proliferated nuclear technology to Syria (why did the the Israelis bomb the nuclear site in Syria? Although we have not seen much nuclear proliferation they are proliferating missile capabilities and developing those missiles with a nuclear capability makes them more marketable. 

Sixth is that if war does take place they will employ them and employ them quickly. The success of their campaign plan is dependent on rapid occupation of the peninsula before the US can reinforce it so I expect they will use nuclear weapons against Korean port facilities (e.g., Pusan) and the 7 UN based in Japan that are critically important ISBs for the flow of US forces. And if the alliance conducts a counter attack into the north I would expect they would use nuclear weapons on their own soil. A target would likely be an amphibious landing on the north’s east coast. 

So if we think about it there are a lot of reasons why the KFR believes nuclear weapons are in its interest and there is not much anyone can entice them with to give them up. Food aid? Diplomatic recognition and normalization? Security guarantees (like the US and Russia have to Ukraine in return for them giving up nuclear weapons)? There is no good reason why they should give them up. That is why I always say that the only way we will see an end to the nuclear program and the crimes against humanity being committed against the Korean people living in the north by the mafia-like crime family cult known as the Kim Family Regime is through the establishment of a unified United Republic of Korea (UROK) that is non-nuclear, economically vibrant, secure and stable with a liberal constitutional government determined by the Korean people. 

Of course that cannot happen until there is no more KFR. There are only four paths to this. 

Peaceful, which is most complex and hardest to achieve but should be the basis for all unification planning. 

Second is war because that will destroy the regime but of course we do want to expend the blood and treasure that will cost. 

Regime collapse- also complex and dangerous and could lead to war or at least some level of conflict that will cause huge suffering. 

And fourth is the outlier: internal dynamics lead to the fall of the regime that is replaced by new leadership that if nurtured and encouraged could seek peaceful unification. 

That is a long shot but it is also why we need to continue the strategic strangulation campaign (as the administration calls it extreme pressure) while we cope, contain, and manage the situation to allow internal dynamics to cause change (and of course all this must rest on a combined alliance military capability that can deter, defend, fight, and win). 

If the Kim Regime Falls in North Korea, Sustained Armed Resistance Could Follow

I am glad Steve is writing about this.  It is important that we recognize the likely resistance that will occur if the Kim Family Regime collapses (and very similar conditions will exist in post-conflict after the regime is destroyed).

My work on this can be found here:
"Unification Options and Scenarios: Assisting a Resistance" (2015)

"Should The United States Support Korean Unification: And If So, How?" (2014)

"Thoughts on Irregular Threats for north Korea Post-Conflict and Post-Collapse: Understanding Them to Counter Them" (2010)

I would say this to Steve (and anyone else who cares about this):  The war, regime collapse, post-conflict, and post-collapse operations will be the biggest "by, with, and through" operation in which the US has ever participated.  We owe it to our blood ally (and to the American people) to help them lead their own unification process but not lead it ourselves.  north Korea is not Iraq and Afghanistan and the ROK military and ROK government is not the Afghan and Iraq military and government.  We cannot approach the north Korea problem the same way we have Afghanistan and Iraq even though the conditions, conflict, and resistance will likely be far worse in north Korea than anything we have encountered in Iraq and Afghanistan (or Syria - and there are lessons there to be learned with the great and medium power interventions).  We are going to have to enable and assist our much more capable partner and blood ally the ROK.  But we cannot occupy the north with US forces and we cannot take the lead in the stabilization and unification process.  If we do we will create a quagmire that will be far worse than the quagmire we have in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria and far worse than the one in which the ROK will find itself if they are leading and we are assisting (but it will be a quagmire nonetheless). 

If the Kim Regime Falls in North Korea, Sustained Armed Resistance Could Follow

 Friday, Jan. 26, 2018

At some point, the brutal and parasitic Kim family dictatorship in North Korea must end, but it is impossible to tell whether it will happen sooner or later. Many predictions that the regime would fall have proven false, but it simply cannot last forever. Whether by internal conflict or by provoking a war with South Korea and the United States, the Kim regime eventually will go.

Stressing that “Korean unification is a Korean affair,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in is convinced that whenever reunification comes, it should be under the leadership of the democratic and economically vigorous south, rather than the decrepit, economically incompetent and brutal regime of Kim Jong Un in the north. Seoul has prepared extensively, establishing a National Unification Board in 1969 and later upgrading it to the Ministry of Unification, which has made substantial plans for a post-Kim stabilization of North Korea.

This would certainly be a good thing for everyone, except Kim loyalists. In addition to the Korean people, other nations, including the United States, would benefit from a unified, peaceful, democratic and prosperous Korean Peninsula. The problem is getting there: The Kim regime will not go easily, and even if it is gone, the job will have only just begun.

Today, South Korea recognizes that stabilizing, rebuilding and integrating North Korea will take a massive effort, but it also believes that it will be relatively peaceful. History has made Koreans leery of external intervention, but Seoul assumes most North Koreans will see South Koreans as fellow countrymen and therefore accept—even welcome—unification engineered by their southern brethren and immediately embrace democracy, the rule of law and the free market system. 
(Continued at the link below)

North Korea's Nuclear Talks with South Korea US Combined Training Prospects

I did a Voice of America talk show yesterday with Frank Jannuzi for broadcast into north Korea (and it is shown in South Korea as well). (I...