A new strategy for dealing with the Norks

NY Times:

American commanders are making significant changes in their plans in the event of a military conflict with North Korea, to rely in large measure on a new generation of sensors, smart bombs and high-speed transport ships to deter and, if necessary, counter that unpredictable dictatorship, the senior United States commander in South Korea says.

The shift in strategy is being undertaken even as the United States cuts the number of troops here by one-third and begins moving the remaining soldiers farther from the demilitarized zone, to improve their chances of surviving any North Korean offensive.

Army headquarters in Washington has made a formal announcement that a brigade of Second Infantry Division soldiers sent urgently from South Korea to Iraq last year will not return to South Korea, but will instead return to a base in the United States. That puts the American troop commitment to South Korea on track to drop from 37,500 - a figure maintained since the early 1990's - to 25,000 by 2008.

In a recent interview that provided a detailed public description of the highly classified war-planning process, Gen. Leon J. LaPorte, the commander, described how American contingency plans are being reshaped by new theories of war-fighting and by new military technology.

"We have better intelligence," he said, so the American and South Korean militaries will have more advance warning if North Korea mobilizes for war, providing the opportunity to locate and attack its vast arsenal of artillery and rockets.

"We have precision-guided munitions," he added. "We have better weapons systems. We have better communications. So we are able to not only accomplish our current mission, but increase our capabilities - at the same time reducing the number of personnel it takes to do this."

...

North Korea has announced that it is a nuclear power. But chemical weapons are a source of concern as well, General LaPorte said. "North Korean doctrine does not see chemicals as a weapon of mass destruction, but as a conventional munition," he said. "Their doctrine is that every third round is a chemical round."

The article also points out how "transformation" is more than just a buzz word with this new plan. Redeployment of forces with the ability to quickly masses forces and use preplaced equipment is part of the plan. Worth the read.

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