Don't mind the headlines.
Planners in Washington envision a more insidious threat: the untimely collapse of Kim Jong-un's government.
Paul McLeary of Defense News posted today about a classified military wargame that played out the sudden collapse of North Korea and the immediate actions of the U.S. Military.
The Unified Quest war game conducted this year by Army planners posited the collapse of a nuclear-armed, xenophobic, criminal family regime that had lorded over a closed society and inconveniently lost control over its nukes as it fell.
Yes, the most terrifying thing about North Korea is actually if it loses positive control of its nuclear technology and any active warheads it has.
The war games didn't go smoothly:
It took 56 days for the U.S. to flow two divisions’ worth of soldiers into the failed nuclear-armed state of “North Brownland” and as many as 90,000 troops to deal with the country’s nuclear stockpiles , a major U.S. Army war game concluded this winter.
There were a few major problems tripping up the military, generals at the event told a handful of reporters, talking only without attribution.
— No "ISR": It's difficult to establish Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance in a hermit kingdom as closed off to the world as North Korea. Essentially, the generals involved agreed that they would move rapidly north of the 38th parallel and be totally blind, without well established information infrastructure.
— What they do know is that nuclear centers are based around civilian hubs. Mitigating, protecting, and defending against droves of civilians takes care, more personnel, and adds to the confusion around securing nuclear technology.
— Well-established logistics hubs feeding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have hamstrung the world's greatest logistics machine: the U.S. Army. Army planners say that they've lost practice at co-opting and setting up initial supply means for a war, like railroads, especially in "austere" conditions.
Brookings released a report in 2009 — prior to all the sanctions — on the very topic of regime change in North Korea. The report concluded that accelerations in North Korea's nuclear program, to include ballistic missiles, "makes the cost of mishandling a possible collapse so high that all contingencies must be planned for."
In terms of the confusion, a collapse in North Korea would make the Pentagon's frenzied scramble looking for Iraq's WMD's look calm and orderly by comparison. Furthermore, their collapse is a very real outcome — as opposed to the lunacy of North Korea actually carrying through on its threats and starting World War III.
Year-old sanctions against the country have starved the lower rungs of North Korean citizenry, and new sanctions target the upper echelons of the DPRK's inner military and government workings.
Those latest sanctions appear to have riled up the hermit regime, which as early as January looked about ready to apologize and shake hands with the ROK.
Recently agreements stipulate that, in order to facilitate the quickest possible response time, if an attack (or presumably a sudden collapse) occurred, the commanding general for U.S. forces in the Republic of Korea would take over the military efforts of both the U.S. and ROK.
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