WASHINGTON – If North Korea were to launch an attack, U.S. intelligence analysts tell WND the barrage of hundreds of thousands of artillery rounds and missiles would destroy not only South Korea’s capital, Seoul, but also most of the U.S. troops stationed primarily around the capital and near the Demilitarized Zone separating the two countries.
“The 28,500 guys on the border are a speed bump and a trigger for war,” a U.S. intelligence officer who is closely monitoring North Korean activities told WND in an exclusive interview. “They probably would die.”
He explained, “Every U.S. and South Korean (location) already has a pre-programmed target reference point by the North Koreans.”
The initial assessment by this and other U.S. intelligence analysts give a grim picture of the initial onslaught of an attack initiated by North Korea.
The analyst who spoke to WND outlined “real-life” scenarios that can be expected in a North Korean attack on South Korea.
Because of limited supplies of some 30-90 days and antiquated equipment, any North Korean attack would be over “in relatively short order,” he said. Eventually, the U.S. would use its air power superiority against the North’s antiquated fighter jets and anti-aircraft and missile batteries to hit selected targets, including the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.
“We estimate that we would rapidly be able to gain air superiority, which would put us in a position to dispose of conventional armor assets and vehicles fairly quickly,” the intelligence official said.
He pointed out that North Korean planes used to deliver airborne troops are prop-driven and look like “something out of the 1930s.”
“One glitch here is that the bulk of North Korean forces are light infantry, which would be harder to stop than if they all hopped into trucks and tried to head south on the one major highway,” he said.
North Korean communications equipment also is dated and could readily be decrypted or jammed, making communications difficult or impossible, which, he said, is a “major handicap for a Soviet-style command structure with very little authority or latitude allowed to subordinate commanders.”
Until that occurred, however, Americans in South Korea would be vulnerable to slaughter in the initial barrage of explosives.
“They’ve got about 50,000 people we quantify as Special Forces, and this is both land and naval,” he said. “Other estimates of SOF (Special Operations Forces) levels may include Airborne troops, which is sometimes considered SOF, and is a little more elite than the regular conscripts.”
The intelligence officer added, “There are an estimated 10,000 sleeper agents within South Korea who will perform insurgent-style missions of attack on the infrastructure or conducting assassinations and also assisting with any infiltration of SOF personnel.”
He pointed out that North Korea has a “very well-developed system” of tunnels under the Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, that can be used to infiltrate SOF, including spies, into the south.
“In fact,” he said, “pretty much at will the North can send in infiltrators.”
He said there are estimates that infiltrators and sleeper agents, which potentially are plain-clothed SOF, will be able to attack across the entirety of the country at a moment’s notice and, “There is no doubt that they’re in all place.”
He said that analysis of what course of action North Korea will take is done on a “most likely course of action,” or MLCOA, and a “most dangerous course of action,” or MDCOA.
“The MDCOA is the North goes full out to the south to force a reunification under the communist regime,” he said. “That means hammering the border and DMZ with tens of thousands of artillery rounds – and also Seoul.
“They would simultaneously have their infiltrators and SOF engage infrastructure, political entities and take critical sites,” he said. “That couldn’t be sustained for very long, so possibly they would be expecting that the South Korean government could rapidly be toppled.
“Most analysts,” he said, “suggest that nuclear devices would probably only be used if U.S. forces were closing in on (Pyongyang).”
The general staff of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – also known as the DPRK or North Korea – over the weekend once again issued a warning that the U.S. would be “seriously mistaken if it thinks that the DPRK, which has smaller, lighter and diversified latest nuclear strike means, will step back in an all-out action with the U.S.
“The DPRK will invariably advance straight along the road of Songun, the road of bolstering nuclear armed force, unless the U.S. does abandon its ambition for stifling the DPRK,” the general staff’s statement said.
The intelligence source said that the MLCOA is that North Korea attacks along the border, hammers Seoul and pushes south to some extent with the hope that they can quickly commence negotiating for some significant political and/or economic concession and then move back to their side of the border.
“In either case,” he pointed out, “the ‘sea of fire’ scenario happens and Seoul is destroyed,” with the expectation that the North Koreans would use chemical and biological weapons in crossing the border.
For the U.S. troops who would be in harm’s way, however, there are no training programs on any of the installations or any basic training facility that uses live lethal agents, even though they are issued equipment to face chemical and biological weapons.
The intelligence source said that of the hundreds of thousands of rounds that would rain down on South Korea, many would include chemical and biological agents.
What is the likelihood that North Korea would launch an attack?
The intelligence officer said there are indications and warnings, or I&W, of troops moving around, but he said the situation is similar to developments leading up to the Russian invasion of the Republic of Georgia in 2008.
In that situation, the Russians had just completed their annual military exercises and still had most of their troops and armor in the region when hostilities began. Russian armor and troops had little problem moving in and occupying much of the country before a political solution was reached in the five-day war.
“The analysts that were looking at Georgia before the Russians invaded said in essence that the Russians had been rolling up to the border and back for years, so they likely wouldn’t attack Georgia,” he said. “I make fun of analysts about that to this day.”
In North Korea, the source said, most of the big mobile equipment as opposed to fixed sites is in hardened bunkers ready to respond on command.
How will that command be given and will U.S. intelligence be able to pick up on the launch of the impending attack, short of knowing after the first artillery rounds and missiles have hit South Korea?
“A commence order could be given by the north in a manner that cannot be detected by our intercept hardware,” the intelligence source said. “It could be as simple as a courier to a rocket corps commander, and the first thing we’d notice was thousands of artillery rounds inbound.”