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Military


The Offense

The Korean People's Army (KPA) is structured and deployed on the primacy of the offense. Doctrine stresses that decisive results can be obtained only through offensive operations. The offense has three objectives: the destruction of enemy forces, the seizure and control of territory, and the destruction of the enemy's will to fight.

Strategy and tactics are built on the key concepts of combined-arms offensive operations, battlefield mobility, flexibility, and the integration of conventional and unconventional warfare. Mass, mobility, and firepower are the three reinforcing elements of a strategy that, when combined with speed and security at a critical point, would produce a decisive offensive strike.

Changes in force development reflect changes in doctrine and strategy. The military problem facing P'yongyang is encountering difficult terrain crossed by the multiple defensive lines, extensive barrier systems, and hardened defensive positions of a determined defender. A heavy emphasis on special forces was the first solution.

After the mid-1970s, the emphasis shifted to firepower. The artillery force, both active and reserve, grew steadily, and self-propelled artillery was deployed. Most North Korean artillery has a greater standoff range than comparable South Korea-United States systems. Hardened artillery positions and a forward-based logistics system of underground facilities for ammunition stockpiles, petroleum, oil, lubricants, and other war supplies appeared to be designed to sustain an initial offensive despite a lack of air superiority. These initiatives only partially addressed the problem, however, because North Korean artillery cannot fire from its hardened artillery sites.

In the 1980's Pyongyang's hope of full-scale conflict between NATO and the Warsaw Pact countries, in the shadow of which DPRK could win a war against South Korea, didn't materialize. On the contrary, the end of 20th century became a period of massive disintegration of communist regimes in countries that used to be "friends of the USSR".

In the 1980s, the emphasis shifted to firepower and mobility as a solution. Some experts believe that maneuver received new emphasis when larger-scale mobile units were created beginning in the early 1980s. Force deployment suggests that P'yongyang intended to employ both second-echelon and Strategic/exploitation forces.

The basic goal of a North Korean southern offensive was destruction of allied defenses either before South Korea can fully mobilize its national power or before significant reinforcement from the United States can arrive and be deployed. Final war preparations most likely would not involve a noticeable surge in military-related activity because almost two-thirds of the ground forces and a significant amount of logistical support already are concentrated in the forward area between P'yongyang and the DMZ.

Immediately preceding the initial infantry assault, North Korean artillery units would attempt to saturate the first echelon South Korean defense with preparatory and continuous suppressive fire. North Korean infantry and armor elements of the first-echelon divisions of the forward conventional corps would attack selected narrow fronts to create gaps for the follow-on echelons. The penetration would be supported by North Korean special operations forces. At the same time, the KPA would launch several diversionary attacks in order to confuse and disperse the defensive effort. The mechanized corps would attempt to push through any gaps, bypass and isolate defenders, and penetrate as deeply as possible into the strategic rear.

The overall objective of the breakout would be to disturb the coherence of South Korea defenses in depth--including its key command, control, communications, and intelligence infrastructure (C3I)--so as to disrupt any significant counterattacks. In support of what would be primarily a ground war, the navy might attempt to insert amphibious-trained special operations forces on each coast or to secure the northern islands or support operations against the Kimp'o Peninsula, across the Han River estuary near Seoul. In addition, Scud and FROG missiles would be used during the assault to disrupt rear areas and C3I. After initial naval support and supply, however, the navy's limited capability to control the sea would leave embarked forces on their own. Both the navy and the air force would be hard pressed to sustain a level of offensive operations and would revert to a largely defensive role.

In order for the KPA's military strategy to succeed on the battlefield, the KPA would have to achieve initial strategic surprise and execute its operations quickly. The most critical period would probably be choosing when and where to commit the mobile exploitation forces.

North Korea was believed to have stockpiled enough ammunition, food, and petroleum, oil, and lubricants in hardened, underground facilities to sustain combat for several months without outside aid. According to Seoul, by 1989 Pyongyang had stockpiled some 990,000 tons of ammunition--an amount sufficient for four months of combat.

The primary objective of North Korea's military strategy was to reunify the Korean Peninsula under North Korean control within 30 days of beginning hostilities. A secondary objective was the defense of North Korea. To accomplish these objectives, North Korea envisions fighting a two-front war. The first front, consisting of conventional forces, was tasked with breaking through defending forces along the DMZ, destroying defending CFC forces, and advancing rapidly down the entire peninsula. This operation would be coordinated closely with the opening of a second front consisting of SOF units conducting raids and disruptive attacks in CFC's rear.

The DPRK offensive against the ROK would consist of three phases. The objective of the first phase would be to breach the defenses along the DMZ and destroy the forward deployed forces. The objective of the second phase would be to isolate Seoul and consolidate gains. The objective of the third phase would be to pursue and destroy remaining forces and occupy the remainder of the peninsula.

As the attack against the forward defenses along the DMZ begins, DPRK forces would probably initiate SCUD and FROG missile attacks with high explosives, smoke, and possible nonpersistent chemical warheads against airfields, lines of communications, C2 and logistics facilities. Additionally, the DPRK attacks would be supported by the opening of a "second front" in rear areas by teams of SOF units. These soldiers, some dressed in ROK army uniforms and carrying ROK weapons and equipment, would infiltrate into the south by air, sea, and through tunnels under the DMZ to attack CFC airfields, C3, and other key targets.

North Korea developed a military plan envisaging the occupation of South Korea within seven days using nonconventional arms including nuclear weapons, South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported 08 January 2015.

The plan was reportedly adopted on August 25, 2012, during a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and top military officials. Kim has since held three more meetings with top generals and conducted several inspections of the North Korean Army to monitor the implementation of the plan. The preparations were initially planned to end in 2013, but the deadline was extended until the end of 2014, according to JoongAng Ilbo.

In the event of a conflict, the North Korean military was to occupy South Korea within seven days, eliminating the possibility of US troops to provide sufficient support for its allies. In the course of the possible fighting, North Korea plans to use non-conventional weapons, including nuclear weapons and missiles, to defeat South Korean and US troops located on the peninsula at the early stage of the war. Conventional weapons, such as tanks, artillery and military aircraft, are planned to be used in the final stage of the conflict, the newspaper reported.

North Korea came to the conclusion that it would not be able to handle a drawn-out conflict with South Korean and US troops and therefore created the seven-day war plan, JoongAng Ilbo reported, citing a South Korean intelligence official.




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