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Korean People's Army

The Korean People's Army is the "revolutionary armed wing" of the Worker's Party as stated in Article 46 of the party constitution, with first and foremost loyalties to the party. The Korean People's Army was established on Feb. 08, 1948. The KPA is the vanguard of the Korean revolution,the revolutionary armed forces of the Workers Party Of Korea. The Army-First/Songun idea was articulated by Leader KIM JONG IL, who declared that the choice was Army-first politics to maintain indepedence or become the colonial slaves of imperialism.

North Korea has always regarded the army as the backbone of national defense. According to statistics in 2015, the number of its army was about 1.2 million, which surpassed the ground forces in the US or South Korea. But huge numbers cannot represent everything. Unlike the situation in "Homeland Defense", the real North Korean army is actually a hodgepodge. Its elite troops have high combat literacy, while the other part has low morale and even lacks training. Not only that, their equipment is generally outdated. In 2015, the North Korean Army had about 6,000 tanks and 2,500 armored vehicles, but the majority were old equipment from the Cold War era.

Among the 6,000 tanks, there are about 2,000 T-55, 1,000 T-62, and 500 PT-76 amphibious tanks manufactured by the Soviet Union and the country, and 1,000 Type 59 supplied by China. As the most important one, the T-55 is actually a product launched by the Soviet Union after the end of World War II: When they were unveiled in the 1950s, Western troops were shocked by its performance and design. But after 60 years, from the most basic weapons and armors to fire control and observation systems, they are gradually diverging from the requirements of modern warfare.

The T-55 was first tested in the 1967 Middle East War. At that time, Egypt and Syria used them to challenge the Israel Defense Forces. Later, it appeared in the forefront of the Cold War, such as the jungles of Vietnam and the deserts of the Middle East. The poor performance on thes battlefields was due in part to unfamiliar training and poor command. During the Gulf War, the complete defeat of the Iraqi T-55 proved that even from a purely performance perspective, they were completely old and backward.

The conditions of these tanks themselves are also very bad: since the embargo began, the logistics of the North Korean army has become more and more stretched, and this dilemma is difficult for North Korea's own military industry to change. Due to the lack of electricity and the floods encountered in 2010, North Koreas most famous tank industrial bases-"Ryu Kyung-soo Factory" and "Guicheng Tank Factory"-have been experiencing difficult recovery in production.

After the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, a large amount of equipment was abandoned in Ukraine, Belarus and other countries and regions. The North Koreans realized the value of these equipment and shipped them back to China in the name of "parts" or even "scrap iron", while the other source was the Middle East: out of consideration of confronting the United States, the Soviet Union had provided them to local countries. A large number of weapons, which aroused the attention of North Koreans.

Since the 1970s, North Korea sent military delegations which brought back the latest equipment and intelligence: Among their "trophies", the largest was a damaged T-72 tank, in addition to various equipment and parts: Among them are the automatic loading machine obtained from Syria, the explosive reaction armor provided by Pakistan, and the night vision equipment provided by Egypt... They were quickly applied to the tanks produced by North Korea, and this type of tank is actually Upgraded and improved version of Soviet-made T-62.

North Korea obtained T-62 in 1976. As the main weapon of the Soviet army in the 1960s, the T-62 was equipped with a 115mm gun, and its protection level was roughly equal to that of the T-55. Using this as a blueprint, North Korea soon launched an imitation. Initially, North Korea produced this type of tank at a rate of 100 vehicles per year, some of which were exported to Iran in the 1980s: but Because the equipment and armor were not as good as the original T-62, this so-called "improved version" had a bad response in Iran. Not surprisingly, as soon as the new technology was acquired, North Korean engineers immediately invested it in the improvement. But these improvements cannot change the fact that they are still using technology from the Cold War era. In the face of ever-increasing military contrast, North Korea has to turn to another country, which is Russia, which inherits the Soviet mantle.

However, in this regard, they have not gone further than in the past. On August 2, 2001, Kim Jong-il made a special trip to visit the Ural Machinery Plant in Russia, trying to purchase T-90 tanks from the plant, but considering the international environment, the Russian side did not give any affirmative answer. After returning to North Korea, Kim Jong Il immediately gave instructions: "We also want to build our own T-90!" So the "Storm" was born. This tank was officially put into production in 2009 and equipped with a powerful 125 mm gun.

But it is not difficult to find from the photos that its fire control equipment is imitated from T-72; the chassis and suspension system are from the improvement and use of T-62. Foreign countries generally believe that although its combat effectiveness is equivalent to the early improved model of the T-72, it is still difficult to match the US M1 tank. Ch'onma-ho IV/V and P'okpoong-ho have entered production, but in small numbers, and are individually and collectively no match for South Korean Forces.

It is this situation that led North Korean leaders to focus on other areas: Since the 1960s, the North Korean Armys heavy artillery and rocket artillery have been liberated from front-line support missions to play a more offensive role against related weapons. Reports from the North Korean newspapers have gradually occupied the main page of North Korean newspapers.

This change is related to the adjustment of the grand strategy. As the equipment gap widens, North Korea is increasingly lacking confidence in defeating its opponents on the frontal battlefield. At the same time, its decision-makers also clearly realize that South Koreas defense system is not impenetrable. But there are many weaknesses: its troops are concentrated in the area close to the 38th parallel, and the capital is only 50 kilometers away from the border. If it can focus on Seoul and military bases near the border, even if it cannot severely damage the Korean troops, it will be enough to strike its people. Morale.

Since the 1970s, the North Korean army has placed its hopes on long-range artillery and rocket launchers. The most famous of these is the "Gushan Cannon". Whenever there is a crisis on the Korean Peninsula, its image will appear in propaganda films. Although historically, its performance is far from perfect.

North Koreas research on long-range rockets can be traced back to the 1980s. The early model was called M-1985. This weapon followed the Soviet armys thinking: that is, at the beginning of the offensive, it would send bullets to enemy positions. , And then make up for the shortcomings of traditional artillery. After that, in order to improve the performance of the M-1985, North Korea developed improvements such as the M-1991. Each improvement in it meant greater power and longer range, and also gave them the ability to bomb Seoul.

Korean People's Army - Introduction

Just after World War II and during the Soviet Union's occupation of the portion of Korea north of the 38th Parallel, the Soviet 25th Army headquarters in Pyongyang issued a statement ordering all armed resistance groups in the northern part of the peninsula to disband on Oct. 12, 1945. Two thousand Koreans with previous experience in the Soviet army were sent to various locations around the country to organize constabulary forces with permission from Soviet military headquarters, and the force was created on Oct. 21st.

The headquarters felt a need for a separate unit for security around railways, and the formation of the unit was announced on Jan. 11, 1946. That unit was activated on Aug. 15 of the same year to supervise existing security forces and creation of the national armed forces.

Military institutes such as the Pyongyang Academy (became No. 2 KPA Officers School in Jan. 1949) and the Central Constabulary Academy (became KPA Military Academy in Dec. 1948) soon followed for education of political and military officers for the new armed forces.

After military was organized and facilities to educate its new recruits were constructed, the Constabulary Discipline Corps was reorganized into the North Korean People's Army Corps Headquarters. The previously semi-official units became military regulars with distribution of Soviet uniforms, badges, and weapons that followed the inception of the headquarters.

The State Security Department, a forerunner to the Ministry of Defense, was created as part of the Interim People's Committee on Feb. 4th, 1948. The formal creation of the Korean People's Army was announced four days later on Feb. 8th, seven months before the government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was proclaimed on Sept. 09, 1948.

North Korea has organized a grand total of seven million men and women into reserve units. Reserve Military Training Unit, Worker-Peasant Militia, and the Young Red Guards make up most of the number. The units are managed by the Party Civil Defense Department in peacetime, but are placed under the Ministry of Defense in contingencies. War mobilization measures usually assign Reserve Military Training Unit to the front or regional defense in war, while the other two units are assigned to maintain security in the rear, guard duty for important facilities, etc. About 30% of all North Koreans between the ages fifteen to sixty are mobilized for reserve units:

  • The Reserve Military Training Unit consist of approximately 1.7 million persons (men 17-45 and unmarried women 17-30) who are not either in active duty or important rear area personnel. They are mobilized under supervision of provincial military units, for a total of forty days' training out of the year.
  • The Worker-Peasant Militia is a combination of older men aged 45-60, along with men ages 17-45 and unmarried women ages 17-30 who are not included in Reserve Military Training Unit. They train for a total of thirty days out of the year. Their current numbers stand at 4.1 million.
  • The Young Red Guards consist of 1.2 million male and female Higher Middle (High) School students aged 14-16. They are subject to a mandatory four-hour drill session every Saturday and a total of 160 hours of on-campus drills annually. A total of 450 hours of off-campus training is also mandatory.

Reserve Military Training Unit form the core of the reserves and are under the command of the Ministry of Defense in peace AND in wartime. Party Civil Defense Departments keep track of the Worker-Peasant Militia and the Young Red Guards in peace time, but the Ministry of Defense in contingencies.

North Korea's massive mechanized infantry and tank units, organized at corps and brigade levels and positioned in depth along the major routes of the attack line, are able to concentrate force on exploiting a breakthrough and enlarging the results of combat operations. The North Korean artillery units, protected in covered trenches and underground bases, can deliver deep fire support without exposure while their multiple rocket launchers are capable of concentrating fire support. North Korea's river-crossing engineering forces armed with more than 600 amphibious vehicles and over 2,300 S-type floating bridge sections can transport troops and equipment for speedy river-crossing operations.

The army has an extensive facility hardening program. Almost all the forward deployed artillery can be stored in wellprotected underground emplacements. The passive defenses in the forward corps include a large bunker complex to conceal and protect infantry forces, mechanized units, and war matriel stockpiles.

Recent force improvements include forward repositioning key offensive units, emplacing anti-tank barriers in the forward area, establishing combat positions along major routes between Pyongyang and the Demilitarized Zone, improving coastal defense forces in the forward area, constructing missile support facilities, and procuring air defense weapons. Applying lessons from US operations in Europe and Southwest Asia, the North Koreans also modified key facility defenses, dispersed forces, and improved camouflage, concealment, and deception measures.

According to remarks made by General LaPorte, commander USFK, during congressional testimony in March 2003 North Korea had for the previous 10 or 12 years adapted its military on what the military leadership perceives as the strengths of the United States military. The KPA adapted in several ways. First in terms of communications the North Korean military has developed an indigenous, frequency-hopping radio that allows soldiers to communicate in a secure mode. Fiber optics have been installed between fixed facilities. And in attempt to protect its forces from US surveillance and air capabilities, the North Koreans have built a tremendous number of underground facilities throughout North Korea to protect leadership and critical forces.


Most of the DPRK's military equipment is technologically inferior to ROK equipment. The state of readiness and training for the force has decline due to the age of equipment and lack of repair parts. Therefore, the ability of the DPRK to threaten the South with conventional forces continued to decline in recent decades. The DPRK plans to operate in a chemically contaminated environment. Chemical defense units are organic to combat units down to regiment level. These chemical defense units have both detection and decontamination systems. Their missions include reconnaissance and the training of personnel in the use of protective equipment. Chemical training and exercises for both military and civilian personnel have increased consistently over the years. The DPRK enforces a mandatory conscription law for citizens age 17 and over. Minimum service periods are as follows: 5 to 8 years (army), 3 to 4 years (air force), and 5 to 10 years (navy). Those not able to serve actively for that period of time are enlisted Red Guard militia, a large paramilitary force. The Worker-Peasant Red Guard militia is the largest civilian defense force in the DPRK. Those under conscription age are assigned to the Red Youth Guards for training. Before the winter 2000 training, some had suggested that North Korea's economic crisis had caused North Korean training to decline considerably. Such a decline, in combination with maintenance and support difficulties, would have minimized the conventional threat posed by North Korean forces. For larger units, most North Korean training is traditionally done during the winter training cycle, but little training went on in the winter of 1999. The winter of 1998 was a more robust training period (though less than historical patterns in some ways).

The North Korean performance in the winter 2000 training was relatively impressive, suggesting that previous judgments have been premature. Immediately following the June 2000 summit, the North Korean People's Army training cycle in the summer of 2000 was the most extensive ever recorded. It was preceded by the most ambitious winter training cycle for the past ten years. Training levels since 2000 have been record-breaking, with the focus on improving the readiness of major offensive forces.

But by in 2012, because of a lack of food, only 25 percent of the reserve forces were made to participate in a light infantry companys field training, but even with that limited number, on the third day many left the training due to the food shortage. In addition, commanders lack the basic equipment necessary to exercise command and control over subordinate units and to communicate with each other.

Since military units do not have electrical chargers for transceivers, 85 percent of the transceivers do not work. Although 140 kilometers of wire is needed for communications, only ten kilometers is available. If a war suddenly breaks out, it will not be possible to transmit orders. Self-procurement of materiel in short supply is required, leading to crime.

The training of SOF personnel is believed to take 12 to 24 weeks or longer, depending on the skill levels. The skill and training that SOF personnel receive, such as infiltration, mountaineering, night operations, swimming, martial arts, airborne, intelligence collection, demolition, and rigorous physical fitness, are typical of elite units throughout the world. Discipline is strong and harsh, with an emphasis placed on intensive physical training and political indoctrination. When training is completed, the trainee is awarded a senior NCO or junior officer rank and assigned to an operational unit for the remainder of his career. Officer Education and Training The commissioned officers' military education and training system in North Korea is elaborate and includes numerous schools, academies, colleges, and universities. Among these institutions are officer- candidate schools for each armed service; basic and advanced branch schools for armor, artillery, aviation, rear services, and other branches; mid-career staff colleges; senior war colleges; and specialty schools, such as medical and veterinary service schools. The majority of officer candidates are selected from noncommissioned officers (NCOs) who display exemplary military qualities and political reliability. Once selected, candidates receive initial branch training and commissioning from service academies and schools. Ground force officer candidates train at branch-specific schools, such as the Combined Artillery Officer School, Armor Officer School, and Kang Kon General Military Academy (which was established in July 1946 as the Central Security Cadre School, renamed in December 1948 as the First Officer Candidate School, and acquired its current name in October 1950). Air force officer candidates train at either the Kim Ch'aek Air Force Academy or the Kyongsong Flight Officer School; navy officer candidates train at the Kim Ch'ong-suk Naval Academy. Mid-career command and staff training is offered at all the service academies, various branch schools, and the Kim II Sung Military University. Courses taught at the service academies last six to 12 months, whereas courses that are taught at branch schools tend to be limited to six months. Two schools are of particular importance: Kim II Sung Military University and Man'gyongdae Revolutionary Institute. Kim II Sung Military University is the most prestigious military school and offers advanced training to officers of all services. Various degree programs are offered: company and junior field-grade officers can attend a three- to four-year program; senior field-grade and political officers are eligible to attend a one-year program. Founded in October 1948, Man'gyongdae Revolutionary Institute is an 11 -year mili- tary boarding school for children of the party elite. Many graduates of this prestigious institution go on to serve as party members. Generally, political officer candidates are selected according to merit, party loyalty, and political reliability among KPA General Political Bureau service members. Candidates receive two years of training at the Political Officers School before commissioning and service in the General Political Bureau or as unit-level political officers. Training focuses on politics, economics, party history, chuck 'e (see Glossary) philosophy, and party loyalty. Advanced training is offered at other institutions, such as Kumsong Political College and Kim II Sung Political University (which was established in November 1945 as the P'yongyang Institute, renamed in January 1949 as the Second Officer Candidate School, and assumed its current name in February 1972). Political officers for field-grade positions are routinely selected by the political department at the corps level from party members in the corps headquarters. Supplemental training may include a six- month course at a political college. Candidates for positions at the division or higher level are identified by the Organization Department of the KPA General Political Bureau. They then are screened by the party committee and approved by the party Central Committee's Secretariat before appointment as head of a political department at division or higher level. Colleges and universities provide most of the training for reserve officers; information available about the training does not differenti- ate between the officer-selection process and other reserve military training. There may be two separate tracks or a selection process at the end of training. Enlisted Conscription and Training North Korea enforces universal conscription for males and selective conscription for females with significant pre-induction and postservice requirements. In April 1993, North Korea enacted the Tenyear Service System, which lengthened universal conscription from an eight- to a 10-year obligation. In October 1996, the Army Service Decree was amended, lengthening (by as much as three years) conscript service obligations to age 30. Initial draft registration is conducted at age 14, pre-induction physicals are administered at age 16, and graduating senior middle school students typically are drafted at age 17. Eligibility for the draft is based on economic and political factors as well as physical condition. Some young people are able to postpone military service through temporary deferments that are offered for continuing education at high school or college. Technicians, skilled workers, members of special government organizations, and children of the politically influential often are excluded from the draft. Most service personnel are single, as marriage is prohibited in the military until age 30, even for commissioned officers. Women are conscripted selectively at a ratio of about one female to nine males and serve in all three services and branches. The coordinating national command authorities of the Central Military Commission and National Defense Commission establish annual conscription quotas that are enforced by the provincial, municipal, and county military-mobilization departments. The county departments, in turn, levy conscription requirements on local schools for implementation, and the schools select the most qualified students. After receiving official notification, inductees are assigned to the army, air force, or navy; given a military occupational specialty, such as infantry, communications, or medical; and assigned to a duty unit. The young men or women then go to a service- and branch-specific military training center or training company at regimental or divisional level for basic and occupational specialty training. Initial training varies by type and lasts approximately two months for ground forces and between two and three months for naval and air forces. Additional training is provided on the job at squad, platoon, and company levels. Training, conducted under constant supervision, essentially emphasizes memorization and repetition but also includes a heavy emphasis on technical skills and vocational training. Lack of a technical base is another reason for the emphasis on repetitive training drills. Nighttime training is extensive, and physical and mental conditioning is stressed. Remedial training for initially substandard performances is not uncommon. Such training methods produce soldiers well versed in the basics even under adverse conditions. The degree to which they are prepared to respond rapidly to changing circumstances is less certain. NCO candidates are selected by merit for advanced military training at NCO schools, which are located at both the corps and the Military Training Bureau of the General Staff Department. The quality of life of the enlisted soldier is difficult to evaluate. Conditions are harsh; rations are no more than 700 to 850 grams per day, depending on branch and service. Leave and passes are limited and strictly controlled. A two-week leave is allowed, although rarely granted, only once or twice during an entire enlistment. Passes for enlisted personnel are even more rare; neither day nor overnight passes are granted. During tours of duty, day passes are granted for public affairs duties or KWP-related activities. There is conflicting information about the frequency of corporal punishment and the harshness of military justice. A typical daily routine can last from 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM, with at least 10 hours devoted to training and only three hours of unscheduled or rest time, excluding meals. In addition, soldiers perform many duties not related to their basic mission; for example, units are expected to grow crops and to raise livestock or fish to supplement their rations.">A Visual Guide to North Koreas Fighting Vehicles">Artillery of the Korean Peoples Army. Part of 2. Self-propelled guns">North Korean Army 170mm SPG">North Korean Army 152mm SPG">North Korean Army 130mm SPG">North Korean Army 122mm SPG">North Korean Army 122mm SPG

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