Although counterintuitive perhaps one of the things these exercises do is to not only force the north to expend resources when they mobilize in response, but also they provide us with some potentially good intelligence (this is why Team Spirit was so important in the past – the regime expended resources and gave us good intelligence reads regarding their mobilization and logistics as well as their operational plans). Kim may be "showing off" in response to the exercise and the high tech capabilities of the ROK/US Alliance. Of course these reports are of "simulated" actions and I am sure the jury is still out on whether they can actually execute these type of operations. I do hope they are continuing to develop the capability to shoot down Tomahawk cruise missiles now that the US Navy is retiring them.
Most military experts say that the North will likely not launch an all-out war against South Korea and its U.S. ally due to its outdated weaponry.
Pyongyang is viewed as more likely to stage an attack along a disputed sea border between the two countries as it did in 2010 when it shelled a South Korean island, killing four people.
Such a move would provide a major test for new South Korean President Park Geun-hye who took office pledging closer ties with the North if it abandoned its nuclear push.
As I have mentioned when and if the north does conduct its next provocation (kinetic vice cyber) the ROK has to "win" the tactical engagement - in this case my definition of win is to both give the appearance the the ROK military was ready and to respond rapidly and decisively at the point of provocation. It must execute a defensive operation to strike local targets in self defense in accordance with the established ROE. The longer it takes for a response the more likely the ROK military will be perceived as having "lost" the engagement. And if they wait, consult and then conduct a deliberate attack against deep or "strategic" targets then we are likely to see an escalation if not a major response because from the north's perspective a deep attack will appear to be a direct threat to the survival of the Kim Family Regime. I am not confident that Kim Jong-un has any off ramps on the escalatory ladder if deep targets are struck and then we can see things get real ugly real quick. However, a decisive strike on local targets will be perceived as a demonstration of ROK strength and there is less likely a chance for escalation. Though again, just as we have seen in the cyber attacks today, the north has laid the ground work for future propaganda. In the case of a ROK response I do believe we will see the propaganda effort focusing on the death of women and children from the ROK response. I think his recent front line visits that included photo ops with women and children are preparation for future propaganda operations.
I received this very important and insightful analysis from Bob Collins in response to the article and my comments below. This is important for anyone studying north Korea and how the regime operates.
We should not be surprised that NK is just now getting around to flash a message that they successfully shot down a two-decade (?) US capability. One of the problems with NK defense industry research is up-to-date research information for their applied sciences programs. Scientific research in NK is overseen on the party side by Science Education Department that recruits, educates and trains all NK scientists. That same research is implemented on the government side by the National Academy of Sciences in general and the 2nd National Science Academy in the military field. (anything numbered the "2nd" in NK government/military/party structure is normally related to the military.) The 2nd Academy focuses on the applied sciences side, however, which means making things work. NK's S&T weakness is on the pure research side. This is the side that is not funded or staffed nearly as well as the applied sciences side.. All the best scientists and the vast majority of the funding goes to the applied sciences side, thus focus on nuke weapon rather than expansion/improvement of their overall nuclear energy program. So as NK recruits, educates and trains new scientists, they do so with 2nd and 3rd string instructors with poorly funded research centers that are poorly equipped for modern research. They are sacrificing tomorrow for today.
North Korea's Kim supervises "drone attack" drill
By David Chance
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-un supervised a drone attack on a simulated South Korean target on Wednesday, Pyongyang's KCNA news agency reported, and the armed forces shot down a target mimicking a cruise missile.
North Korea has stepped up its military exercises in response to what it regards as "hostile" joint drills by South Korea and the United States after Pyongyang was sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council for a nuclear test in February.
It is not known if North Korea possesses drones, although a report on South Korea's Yonhap news agency last year said that it had obtained 1970s-era U.S. target drones from Syria to develop into attack drones.
"The (drone) planes were assigned the flight route and time with the targets in South Korea in mind, Kim Jong-un said, adding with great satisfaction that they were proved to be able to mount (a) super-precision attack on any enemy targets," KCNA reported.
It is extremely rare for KCNA to specify the day on which Kim attended a drill. It also said that a rocket defense unit had successfully shot down a target that mimicked an "enemy" Tomahawk cruise missile.
North Korea has said it has abrogated an armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War and threatened a nuclear attack on the United States.
Although North Korea currently lacks the technology to carry out such an attack, the U.S. said it would deploy anti-missile batteries in Alaska to counter any threat.
The KCNA report said that Kim, 30, the third of his line to rule North Korea, would give orders to destroy military installations in any war zone and also U.S. bases in the Pacific if the North was attacked.
North Korea's missiles have the capacity to hit bases in Japan and on the island of Guam.
Earlier in the day, KCNA denounced U.S. moves that it said were aimed at staging a "pre-emptive nuclear strike" on North Korea, citing the deployment of a U.S. B-52 bomber over the Korean peninsula as well as what it said were nuclear-armed submarines.
The U.S. and South Korea say their drills are defensive.
Tensions have mounted on the Korean peninsula since North Korea staged its first successful long-range rocket launch in December. It followed this up with its third nuclear weapons test in February.
Pyongyang is barred from developing missile and nuclear-related technology under U.N. sanctions imposed after previous nuclear tests.
(Continued at the link below)