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KPA Concepts of Operations

A number of distinct operational forms of the threat are salient in current U.S.-ROK planning; some would be complementary in an offensive, others are mutually exclusive.

1. Deliberate (Prepared) Offensive

It is envisaged that twelve or more North Korean divisions would attack down one of the major invasion corridors leading to Seoul (Ch'orwon or Kaesong) in the first phase of such an offensive. Each of the corridors is now defended by a single Corps of three or four divisions. North Korean regular infantry formations supported by armor and heavy artillery fire would seek to overwhelm the Corps in their path to open the way for a follow-up armored breakthrough to Seoul.

2. "Bolt Out of the Blue"

This presumes surprise. In the absence of adequate warning, the assigned ROK regular forces could not fully man the barrier defenses in the Seoul corridors, and the militia could not carry out its planned task of laying minefields. Accordingly, given surprise successfully achieved, it is envisaged that the North Koreans would attempt a classic, high-speed, deep-penetration offensive by massed formations of battle tanks, to break through the anti-tank barriers before they could be closed and adequately defended. Since the North Koreans could deploy their forces in jump-off positions without being detected, and since front-line ROK forces are now concentrated in a forward perimeter defense, this threat is particularly salient. To be sure, the barrier systems on the Seoul corridors are laid out in depth from the DMZ to the city outskirts. But the defense of these barriers depends in part on troops that must withdraw to hold them in sequence. It is feared that the high-speed elements of the armor "Blitzkrieg" (and/or airborne assailt troops) could seize the barriers before they can be fully manned by either withdrawn troops, or by allocated reinforcements.

3. In-Depth Infiltration and Guerilla Threat

In addition to these regular-force threats, it is believed that the North Koreans might also launch a campaign of sabotage and guerilla-type raids against both military and civilian targets in the deep interior of the ROK. In a variant perception, this threat is thought to be directed against Corps rear areas. Such raids and sabotage missions would be carried out by activated in-country sympathizers (rural guerillas and urban terrorists) and also by troops of the North Korean 8th Special Corps, infiltrated by air or by sea.*

4. Harassment of the Seoul Capital Area

The North Korean inventory includes FROG unguided rockets with a range sufficient to reach the Seoul area. In addition, it is possible that some Soviet-built 180mm long-range gun-howitzers are also in service. It has been suggested that these weapons, (and possibly also the 130am guns) might be used for the long-range bombardment of the Seoul area with RAP rounds. The harrassment of the Seoul area by remote firepower might take place in conjunction with the other threats (in order to demoralize the defense); or, alternatively, it might be carried out in isolation in a counter-value role or for psychologic purposes, possibly as a bargaining chip in intra-war negotiations. In any case, high accuracy would not be a requirement for such long-range bombardments.

5. Long-Range Artillery (In Hardened Positions)

The large and diversified North Korean artillery forces would provide normal fire support in the context of the above threats. But, the North Koreans are also especially well-equipped to neutralize the ROK artillery on which the defense greatly depends under the current attrition strategy. Much of the heavier North Korean artillery is deployed in hard emplacements (the so-called "Y" emplacements) which no current U.S. munitions can reliably destroy. There is as a result a serious counter-battery threat since almost all ROK artillery must operate within the range envelope of North Korean guns in order to support front-line forces. (Soviet-built 130m guns in North Korean service outrange all U.S.-built howitzers in ROK service, except for the small number of M-107 175mm guns.)

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Page last modified: 03-05-2019 18:39:58 ZULU