The Role Of The Marines At The Korean Peninsula CSC 1984 SUBJECT AREA Strategic Issues THE ROLE OF THE MARINES AT THE KOREAN PENINSULA Submitted to The Marine Corps Command and Staff College Quantico, Virginia In Partial Fullfillment of Requirements For Written Communications LtCol. C. S. CHO Korean Marines April 2. 1984 THE ROLE OF THE MARINES AT THE KOREAN PENINSULA Korea has three sides sea which are the east, the west and the southern part. Since the end of World War II in 1945, the Korean peninsula has been divided into the South and the North. From that time until now, we have been faced with a very real military threat from North Korea which still has as her ultimate goal red unification by means of force. We have to maintain a great number of military forces against North Korean forces.1 Most of the military strength is the ground forces on both sides which are defending a 155 mile long De Militari- zed Zone(DMZ). It is the most severe situation in the world and is always highly tense. In this situation, the most effective military forces are the marines. In modern warfare, we can take much advan- tage or the new equipment and sophiscated weapons. This does cause many burdens especially to the underdeveloped countries. I establish the scope or how to employ and train the marines 1. Anthony H. Cordesman, "The Military Balance in Northeast Asia: The Challenge to Japan and Korea." Armed Forces Journal International, December, 1983, P. 35 Click here to view image effectively, without requiring a huge amount of money or materials, to just within a present combat capability and budget. THE ROLE OF OUR MARINES The marines are also ground forces but the major diff- erence between the army and marines is that the marines con- duct amphibious operations. The Korean peninsula is an ideal area for amphibious landings. The big advantages of amphibi- ous landings are flexibility and mobility. The marines are a very economical force. According to intelligence, three North Korean army divisions defend the east coast and another three divisions defend the west coast against only one Republic of Korea (ROK) marine division. As a result, our marine division can effectively hold six North Korean army divisions at the present coastal area and can prevent reinforcements to the DMZ. However, our navy is not big enough to conduct an amphi- bious assault support above one Regimental Landing Team (RLT) size. The U.S navy is an oceanic navy which crosses the paci- fic or atlantic ocean, but the ROK navy is a coastal navy. Our main threat is North Korea and that the sea battle areas are within 900 miles of sea line. Also we have the advantage or mutual support from the east sea and the west sea through the south sea, whreas the North Korean navy is separated from the east and west seas. Korea is a small country and does not have a bigger naval fighting ship than the Destroyer (DD) class. We need more small fast crafts which are more efficient for the Korean sea. During a see-saw game between the Southern and North- ern ground forces in the vicinity of the DMZ during war time, our marines can attack the North Korean flank in the east or west or both sides by an amphibious assault. They can cut the line of communications and prevent reinrorce- ments from the rear to the front. A typical example is "The Inchon Landing" in 1950. Conducted by U.S and ROK marines during the Korean war. Consequently, this started an epoch for this type of defense against attacks. AN AMPHIBIOUS RAID When we conduct an amphibious landing, the essential factor is achieving air and sea superiority. Today in the present situation, it is difficult to achieve air and sea superiority against North Korea. (See Table 1) Click here to view image We need more time and money. For this reason we have to think about amphibious raids by small fast craft or fast patrol craft. 3 Amphibious raids do not require air or sea superio- rity. And the best transportation for amphibious raids is the submarine. However, at the present, we do not have submarines and the west sea does not have a sufficient water depth for maneuvering submarines. However, we want to have submarines and we will have them within the next ten years. During the last ten years, the ROK navy has built small,fast and more fire powered craft fitted for the Korean sea conditions. Small fast attack craft or sm- all coastal patrol craft and Inflatable Boat Small (IBS)4 are effective means ot conducting amphibious raids. The purposes of the amphibious raids are as follows5 2. Anthony H. Cordesman, "The Military Balance In Northeast Asia: The Challenge to Japan and Korea." Armed Forces Journal International, December, 1983, P.35-36 3. John Moore, "JANE'S Fighting Ships,1982-83"(London, Jane's Publishing Company Limited), P.287 Small Fast Attack Craft: Displacement 250 tons, Max. Sp. 4O Knots, Built by Korea Tacoma. Small Coastal Patrol Craft: Displacement 80 Tons. Max. Speed 42 Knots, Built by Korea Shipbuilding Corp. 4. Korea Marines, Amphibious Raids IP 1-81(1981),P.26 inflicting loss of damage, securing information, creating a diversion, capturing of evacuating personnel and / or material. Thus, the unique situation in Korea is that we can employ strategical effects such as: - We can deny the concentration of enemy combat po- wer and reduce the flexibility of the general purpose re- serve forces of amphibious raids which are to the rear areas. - We support friendly forces operations to destroy major harbor facilities or military bases which are located near the coast line. - We can neutralize enemy command and control systems and combat logistical facilities to destroy main lines of communications, administration posts and power plants. - We can enhance psychological warfare to attack po- pulated areas. - We can collect strategical intelligence for captu- ring enemy key personnel or strategic materials. Also we can achieve tactical effects in these ways: - We can attack the enemy flank to force dispersion which are located in the frontal area to limit employment of reserves. - We can destruct fortified points or underground fortresses for support of an amphibious assault. - We can employing combat intelligence. 5. Doctrine for Amphibious Operations, LFM 01. Therefore, conducting an amphibious raid is the same as conducting a normal amphibious operation with its five phases - a planning phase, an embarkation phase, a rehear- sal phase, a movement phase and an assault phase. However, the only difference is adding the withdrawal phase at the end. When the embarkation phase is finished, the small att- ack crafts move to 20,000m to 30,000m in front of the land- ing beach. As soon as they have arrived at the IBS transfer area, which is out of enemy coastal gun's range but still remains within enemy radar contact area, there is a trans- fer of the IBS to the marines and a move to another direc- tion for deception. When stopping the small attack crafts only two or three minutes is necessary for a transfer of the IBS. After the transfer, the IBS moves without a wave guide and radio control. The result of this training is that an IBS with an outboard motor can move to the beach until it is 300m to 1,000m in front of the beach depending on the sentry post or sea conditions. After that the IBS is padd- led to shore silently. This ship to shore movement stage is the most dangerous but most important part of the entire amphibious raids. In order to conduct an amphibious raid mission, the ROK marine division is well trained in amphibious raid tac- tics. The marine division consists of three infantry regi- ments and each regiment has designated one amphibious raid battalion. The designated amphibious raid battalion has been trained in small rubber boat handling, reconnaissance skills, weapons with silences firing, map reading, scuba proficiency and combat swimming. Also, they are equipped with scuba equipment, weapon with silences, a gyro compass, a motorized IBS, etc. PROBLEMS CONCERNING THE PRESENT SITUATION In the present situation, our marines have developed many amphibious raid tactics and laid special emphasis on night operations. But we can not achieve a decisive victory through amphibious raid operations. The amphibious raid is used as one of the types of amphibious operations. The principal type of amphibious operation is the amphibious assault which begins with an ashore combat power of zero and builds rapidly to the level of maximum power required for the force to accomplish the mission ashore. Concerning this point, the ROK marines have a strong intrest and have explained to the navy that the fundamen- tal problem is the lack of amphibious ships. The ROK's navy fleet has only eight Landing Ship Tanks( LST ) which were built between the years of 1943 to 1945 and their max- imum speed is less than twelve knots.6 Now the modern war has changed very rapidly especially the weapon system. Al- most every year we can see more powerful and sophiscated new weapon systems. Our navy has still World War II type 6. John Moore, "JANE'S Fighting Ships, 1982-83" ( London, Jane"s Publishing Company Limited ), P.289. type amphibious ships. Aocoring to ROK's intelligence, North Korea has very strong coastal guns, and they have sophiscated radar along the coastal line. They can cover the entire coastal line. Looking at these circumstances the ROK's navy LSTs are ex- actly " Long Slow Targets " for the North Korean coastal guns. Consequently our own amphibious operations are very difficult to achieve because our navy retains these types of amphibious ships. We can find many problems easily. First, we can not conduct amphibious assaults above one RLT size, and we can not achieve mass attacks because it is difficult to transport fire power means - artillery, tank - and heavy equipments. ( See table. 2 ) Amphibious Operation Capability for ROK navy / marines Click here to view image Second, let us assume it is war time. Probably the U . S Marine Corps in Okinawa would participate in a Korean war to help South Korea. Theretore, there would be a ROK / US marine combined amphibious operation. The ROK amphibious task force cannot combined their operations with the U . S amphibious task force because of their low speed. U . S amphibious ships maneuver at 20 knots but the ROK amphibious ships only at 12 knots. The ROK ships cannot make maneuvering formations. Third, as already stated previously, we have only one RLT size amphibious capability. We can make a massive po- wer project from sea to land by amphibious operation. We need more modern amphibious ships. A good example is to compare the ROK's marines with the Taiwanese marines. (See Table 3) Click here to view image Taiwan and Korea have almost the same number of marines but the Taiwanese navy has two LSDs and twenty six LSTs for amphibious operations. Now, Korea has good shipbuilding technology and amphibious ships are not expensive compared to other combat ships. Our marines have to continuously per- 7. John Moore, "JANE'S Fighting Ships, 1982-83" ( London, Jane's Publishing Company Limited ), P.284, P.424. suade the high ranking goverment officials and the mini- ster of national defense (MND).8 They need to realize the important role of the marines and the necessity of amphibious ships which are just as necessary as destroy- ers (DD) which have a higher priority for increased sea power. Another problem is the scheme of employing marines. We will look at higher headquarter's operation plans for the defense of the Korean peninsula when North Korea attacks.9 At DEFCON - 2 (Defense Condition)10 the marine division will move to the assembly area at the front area, and the ground reserve role will be under the control of the ground component command. At DEFCON - 2, we will move all divisions to the assembly area via air, railroad and ground transportation. During this first stage of war time, we have to assure our ground component command reserve mis- sion is the same as the army division. I have already men- tioned previously that the marine's main role is to conduct the amphibious operation. When we take this opportunity to make an amphibious operation while our marine division have the ground component reserves, we release the ground compo- 8. Same organization of Department of Defense in U.S 9. Combined Forces Command Operation Plan - 5027. 10. The second highest indication of war situation. nent reserves mission or give up conducting the amphibious operation. Consequently both cases are not a good course of action. When we come back to our marine's home base which is on the front, it will really be hard to get transportation because all the service branches need transportation. But perhaps many transportation assests or road systems may be destroyed by the enemy attack. Also during certain periods of time of the ground component reserve mission, we lost personnel and equipment. Our marine division's combat cap- ability is reduced and we can not have sufficient time for preparing an amphibious operation. So we need to change the Combined Forces Command Operation Plan. The marine division is to prepare and conduct the amphibious operation. IN CONCLUDING We stand face to face with North Korea. We have to defend our nation against communist North Korea which is the most aggressive country in the world. To achieve this supreme mission, the army, navy or air force cannot take charge of conducting war for this is an impossible and also dangerous idea. We must coordinate with each other, and we need mutual support. The Korean peninsula is an ideal area for amphibious operations, and the role of the marines is more important than the role of other services. In order to effectively conduct amphibious operations, we need more modern amphi- bious ships to increase lifting capability. We need to establish a long range program to build new amphibious ships and make new equipment. Also, we have to retain continuous intrest concerning amphibious raids by small fast crafts. We have to study and develop continually new doctrines, tactics, equipment and effective individual training. Lastly, we must examine the Combined Forces Command Operation Plan which employs the marine division to move to the front area at DEFCON - 2 and the ground component command reserve role. The marine division has a unique mission and organization. His released from the ground component command and just committed to training and pre- paring for an amphibious operation. The marine's special- ty is the amphibious operation. BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Cordesman H, Anthony, "The Military Balance in Northeast Asia: The Challenge to Japan and Korea." Armed Forces Journal International, December, 1983. 2. Moore John, "Strength of the Fleet." JANE'S FIGHT- ING SHIPS 1982 - 83", 3. Korea Marines. Amphibious Raids, IP 1 - 81. Seoul, 1981. 4. U.S Marine Corps. Doctrine for Amphibious Operations, LFM 01. 1971.
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