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Korean People's Army - Readiness

Readiness has been defined in many ways. Some definitions, as Richard Betts pointed out in his book, "Military Readiness: Concepts, Choices, Consequences", are fairly broad and synonymous with overall military capabilities for example, the balancing of manpower, investment, and operations and maintenance expenditures that produce the force structure capability of rapid, sustained, and ultimate full response.

One of North Koreas military objectivesis to take the entire Korean peninsula within 30 days. Substantial food and combat ration war reserves are stockpiled, despite widespread starvation and malnourishment in recent years. The KPA currently is judged to be capable of defending the DPRK, conducting special operations against the ROK and Japan, and maintaining internal security. It currently maintains the capability to initiate a war of reunification against the ROK with little warning; however, it has a declining capability to prosecute such a war for an extended period of time. The KPA would be hard-pressed to provide logistic sustainment to KPA troops operating well south of the DMZ. The KPA probably plans on using South Korean fuel, food, and other logistics.

There is considerable disagreement over the precise number of regular and SOF forces, as well as capabilities and readiness. Moreover, analysts debate about the KPAs doctrine and disposition, especially in regard to the offensive or defensive nature of the KPA. How have North Koreas chronic economic difficulties affected these capabilities and/or altered Pyongyangs military strategies or doctrines? Is the KPAs military readiness atrophying because of the WMD programs, whether from lack of economic resources or doctrinal decisions?

North Koreas asymmetric or unconven-tional warfare programs (SOF, WMD, etc.) measurably contribute to the countrys security from external threats and complement its conventional military capabilities. The continued conventional force improvement and asymmetric capability acquisition provideda measured balance to offset capability deficiencies and poor readiness while attempting to satisfy North Korean military strategy requirements.

There are frequent reports of serious shortages of food, fuel, winter clothes, and other military supplies for KPA troops. Soldiers are mobilized for various labor requirements outside of the military, such as factory, farming, or construction to meet state-dictated quotas, in addition to their various military exercises, to earn foreign currency and supplement their shortage in food. Morale and discipline problems cannot help but increase, training has decreased, and some units would have difficulty maintaining operational readiness.

A common analytical mistake occurs when the metrics used to review US military readiness and capabilities are applied to an adversary. The objective of the US Armys readiness reporting system is to measure an organizations readiness to accomplish its assigned mission in other words, to measure how ready it is to go to war today, and how effectively it could prosecute the war. These metrics are used to satisfy the U.S. Armys objectives as they relate to U.S. National Military Strategy and the Quadrennial Defense Review usually dealing with issues of a global nature. North Koreas strategic objectives are regional and do not require the same scope of readiness that the US military requires.

During the Korean War, lack of adequate logisticshampered North Koreas military forces and keptNorth Korea from completely controlling the peninsula. Thus, sustainability of the North Korean military forces became a primary requirement, and the country continued to maintain war reserves for all classes of supply for 6 months of sustainability for regular forces and 3 months for reserve units and paramilitary forces. A major increase in the number of active forces and the deployment of many new types of weapons systems since the end of the Cold War complicate this doctrine; however, North Koreas massive war reserve stockpiles continue to expand despite the tremendous cost to its economic structure and hardship to its people.

On the negative side of the military-first rule, due to the over-expansion of military roles, the over-politicization of the KPA, and the military sprawl in the North Korean society, the KPAs primary role, i.e., the military defense of North Korea, probably would be downgraded and downplayed. Despite the KPAs continuous claim on almost half of the DPRKs government budget, its resources are still limited and unduly stretched out. As a result, the KPAs military readiness suffers, and actual military capabilities continue to deteriorate despite the military-first policy.

North Korea expanded its ammunition and equipment storage capacities by building hardened and underground facilities and enlarging existing facilitiesas well as major national-level storage installations and unit-level storage depots, especially near the DMZ. Ammunition stockpiles were estimated at over one million tons as well as major military POL war reserves, despite the severe shortage of fuel supplies for the civil economy.

Mandatory military conscription lasts 8 years on average, with most servicemen performing the same job in the same unit the entire period. This stability in the ranks allows North Korean units to maintain readiness, while limiting the expenditure of scarce resources. However, this readiness may be false. The effects of malnutrition degrade everything from morale to body mass to mental faculties. One aspect that all defectors report is that even though the military is favored, there is still not enough food.

The ministry and the staff department inspect units of corps level or above twice per year and three times per year for divisions and brigades, and once per quarter for units of the regiment level or lower.

A North Korean investigation into military combat reserve supplies has revealed shoddy maintenance and discrepancies between inventory records and actual supplies of food, fuel and medicine, sources in the military told RFA in June 2021. In accordance with Central Military Commission order 0035 issued in early June, we are conducting an intensive inspection of the storage maintenance status of combat reserve supplies, a member of the North Korean military in the northwestern province of North Pyongan told RFAs Korean Service 16 June 2021.

The Ministry of Peoples Armed Forces, the General Staff Department, the General Political Bureau, the General Rear Services Bureau and the Military Security Command of the Korean Peoples Army have jointly organized inspection teams and have been inspecting the storage maintenance status of combat reserve supplies for all military units since June 10th, said the source, who requested anonymity to speak freely. The regular inspection in the first half of this year has revealed a lot of issues such as poor maintenance of wartime reserve supplies and insufficient quantity compared to written records. This is why the Partys Central Military Commission has issued a special inspection order, the source said.

The main focus of this inspection is on supplies like wartime fuel, food, combat suites and medicine. All units typically lack fuel, food and medicine so they often secretly dip into their reserves, a second source said. This is why a lot of units have less supplies in reserve than what is listed in records. Since the start of the inspection, officers are quickly seeking help from social institutions or the wealthy class to fill their shortages.

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Page last modified: 24-06-2021 17:59:56 ZULU